Written on May 14, 2013
A new report for the RAC Foundation, dubbed “Ploughing On” has indicated motorists and fleet drivers should consider changing their driving habits in a bid to cope with the most extreme winter weather conditions on the nation’s motorways.
The report suggests councils and the Highways Agency responded well to the more extreme periods of wintry weather experienced across the UK during the early stages of 2013. However, changing weather conditions could mean fleets have to adopt new strategies to allow their drivers cope effectively.
The report, written by Brian Smith, a former director of Environment and Transport at Cambridgeshire County Council and member of government-commissioned Quarmby Winter Resilience Review in 2010, indicates the authorities have warmed to the task of dealing with extreme winter road conditions.
However, drivers have been encouraged to be better prepared for next winter, with the report saying motorists need more advice on the potential benefits of winter tyres, and other features such as snow socks and snow chains, that can save lives and precious cash.
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, agrees that awareness and preparation for extreme weather periods is an increasingly important issue.
“The reality is that the climate is an evolving beast. No longer can we regard periods of severe weather as isolated incidents,” he said.
“They seem to be getting more frequent and more extreme and the impact of one compounds the effects of another.
“When we are warm and snug in our modern cars it is tempting to think we are immune from the elements and have the technological resources to deal with whatever nature might throw at us – but the experience is that we do not. We need to consider revising our view of what is ‘normal’. As the climate appears to change we should not confuse extreme weather with rare weather.
“As ever there is a balance to be struck between need, expectations and expense. Councils could put a gritter and a snow plough round every corner if that is what the public desire but the trade-off is greatly reduced expenditure on other essential services.”
Written on May 10, 2013
The value of light commercial vehicles (LCV) soared for a third month in succession last month, reaching a new high point according to BCA’s latest Pulse report.
April saw average LCV values of £4,998, the highest on record for any month since the Pulse report began in 2005. Sales values increased by 2.8 per cent compared to March, while average mileage declined by almost 4,000 miles over the course of the month.
Impressive levels of demand within the vehicle remarketing sector have played a significant part in the increase of corporate LCV stock and older part-exchange vans.
Duncan Ward of BCA, said: “April has continued the pattern seen over recent months with demand virtually across the board from smaller car-sized vans up to large long-wheel base panel vans.
“Condition and presentation remain important, and high mileage may discourage some bidders, but overall average values and conversion rates remain very strong.
“The auction halls have been very busy across the BCA network, while the number of buyers participating via BCA Live Online continues to rise.
“In the current market, the limited supply and levels of demand in the remarketing sector have seen prices rise for corporate stock and older dealer part-exchange vans.
“Anecdotal evidence from a number of sources suggests retail used van activity remains slow, yet the wholesale remarketing sector is relatively strong. LCV values have been universally strong throughout the first third of this year and are significantly higher than the same period last year.”
Values within the fleet and lease LCV sector also improved in April, increasing by £264 (4.4 per cent) to an average of £6,171 – the first time average monthly corporate LCV values had been above £6,000.
Although performance against CAP fell by nearly two points to 100.9 per cent, it retained value against manufacturer recommended prices, improving from 35.43 per cent in March to 37.17 per cent in April.
Written on May 7, 2013
A recent study by Oxford Economics has revealed the car and van sector of the vehicle rental and leasing industry rakes in upwards of £14bn-a-year for the UK economy, supporting more than 183,000 jobs across the country.
The report, commissioned by the BVRLA, offers some insightful independent data on the scope and importance of the vehicle rental and leasing sector to the nation’s economic revival.
The £14bn it reportedly contributes is equivalent to £1 in every £90 of UK GDP – or even the combined local economies of western England cities Bath and Bristol.
As an overall figure it takes into account of the operations within the industry itself, vehicles made within the UK and engines it purchases, the activity of UK dealerships and its impact on the used car market.
Within the process, the sector generates around £2.8bn of tax revenue each year. In terms of jobs, the industry employs 38,000 people directly, with a further 145,000 people working within the wider supply chain and consumer spending effects.
Indeed the automotive sector is one of the UK’s few success stories within the manufacturing industry, with vehicle rental and leasing firms among its most considerable customers, acquiring an estimated 220,000 vehicles in 2011 alone.
The automotive industry is also playing a vital role in driving down carbon emissions. At 123g/km, the CO2 emissions of the average lease car registered in 2012 was a 25 per cent cleaner than the average car on UK highways.
As well as offering businesses a simple solution for fuel-efficient vehicles, fleet management and lower capital costs, vehicle leasing also offers a myriad of additional ‘housekeeping’ services – most notably maintenance, insurance and road tax – freeing up valuable resources for other business-critical tasks.
Written on April 29, 2013
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has called for post-2020 carbon emissions targets to be based on scientific evaluation as opposed to “purely political figures”.
The ACEA’s secretary general, Ivan Hodac, has acknowledged a need for “further ambitious targets to be set”, although he believes any post-2020 goals should be based on an “independent impact assessment”.
He added: “They must not be purely political figures. Unfortunately it seems that the European Parliament is moving in this direction.”
At present Europe has the highest vehicle environmental standards in the world and is keen on retaining this status.
However, the ACEA believes this will only be possible if the competitiveness of the industry can be safeguarded.
In environmental and economic terms, future CO2 targets should therefore be based on a scientific evaluation of their impact. An impact assessment has not yet been conducted, and too many legal and market uncertainties remain as to lead technology in the long term.
Hodac has subsequently led the calls for a responsible evaluation of the future regulatory regime.
He said: “To simply set political figures with no scientific basis at this stage would be to act irresponsibly.
“Moreover, it would ignore the pledges made to the industry in CARS 2020, the Commission’s recent action plan for a competitive and sustainable automotive industry.”
These pledges include conducting a ‘competitiveness proofing’ of all initiatives that might have a major impact on the automotive industry.
Written on April 26, 2013
Statistics from the Alphabet Fleet Management Report (AFMR) 2012 indicates the number of firms that have set green fleet targets has dramatically increased in the last 12 months.
The number of organisations to consider environmentally-friendly fleet targets has increased from 45 per cent in 2011 to 79 per cent in 2012.
The report also compares the number of green fleet targets set in both private and public sector fleet operations. Figures suggest the private sector is narrowing the gap with 83 per cent of public sector companies now boasting green targets compared to 79 per cent of private firms.
Cost remains the greatest barrier for many firms seeking to ‘go green’. Over half (52 per cent) of fleet managers surveyed were concerned that it would be beyond their means to work with environmental sustainability in mind.
Paul Hollick, sales and marketing director of Alphabet, said: “Pursuing green fleet policies will deliver cost savings in a number of areas for companies, especially fuel.”
Around half of fleets see the cost of changing vehicles as the main barrier to attaining these goals however. The suggestion is that many would like to bring forward the replacement of existing vehicles with lower-CO2 models but have not done so because of the additional up-front costs for the early termination of contracts.
“Those companies that are concerned should switch to Whole Life Cost calculations, as opposed to lease-cost-based choice lists, as a more effective means of identifying whether vehicles should be changed and think in three or four year “blocks” rather than focusing on first-year savings.”
Switching to lower CO2 vehicles is the easiest means of reducing a vehicle’s environmental impact, as well as ECO driving courses and tracking fuel data via fuel cards. Fuel cards are growing in popularity, with a 14 per cent year-on-year increase between 2011 and 2012.
Written on April 23, 2013
New information released by the Independent Garage Association (IGA) has found that fleet operators could save as much as £40 per hour on repair costs by visiting an independent garage.
Following a poll of more than 2,000 members on their labour rates, the IGA concluded that independent garages “continue to offer motorists the very best value for money”.
The IGA launched its nationwide ‘Trust My Garage’ scheme in a bid to ensure all UK motorists and fleet operators could find a trusted local independent garage.
Figures from the poll found the average labour cost is around £40 for independent firms. In stark contrast, the most recent Warranty Direct annual Labour Rates Survey revealed average national hourly labour rates for franchise garages stood at £95.94.
Of all the IGA survey respondents, just two independent garages in the UK were charging even close to £90 per hour for labour rates, with the vast majority charging less than £50 per hour.
Stuart James, director of the RMI’s Independent Garage Association, said: “With the costs associated with owning a vehicle continually rising, it is fantastic to see that independent garages are continuing to offer motorists outstanding value for money.”
Location appears to play a part in the most expensive areas for labour rates. The five lowest prices were recorded in more rural areas such as Cambridgeshire, Herefordshire, Leicestershire and Cumbria.
Meanwhile the five highest labour rates were recorded in London, Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Hertfordshire and Kent.
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Written on April 15, 2013
International fleet operators can now secure cost savings approaching tens of thousands of pounds for their companies by reducing the average carbon emissions of a typical fleet of vehicles by just 10g/km, according to the 2013 edition of the annual European Taxation Guide.
The guide, which is produced by Nexus Communication in conjunction with global accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), reviews the company car tax situation in 23 European nations in print and 29 countries in digital format.
Interestingly, company cars are already closely linked to carbon emissions-related taxes in 20 member states throughout the continent, while many other countries plan to follow suit soon as their governments continue to target company cars as a source of tax-raising revenue.
Nevertheless, fleet operators can manipulate fleet policy to secure significant savings. By lowering CO2 emissions by a mere 10g/km, from 135g/m to 125g/km, a typical fleet of 200 cars can produce annual fuel savings of up to €44,000 in most European countries.
In Portugal, for instance, once direct taxes are included, cost savings can be as much as €132,000 a year. Meanwhile, in Belgium, a country which boasts more indirect and hidden taxes, businesses could save a whopping €163,000 each year.
When considering potential tax savings, reducing CO2 emissions makes the biggest financial difference in the most developed Western European nations including Belgium, Holland, France, Spain and the UK.
Following a comparison of company car tax systems in the above countries, it is clear many have registration taxes linked to CO2 emissions generated by fleets.
The guide goes on to indicate that it will no longer be sufficient for fleet managers to select diesel vehicles to achieve the optimal cost-saving emissions levels with thresholds reducing all the time throughout Europe.
The introduction of new EU-backed carbon emissions limits of 130g/km by 2015 and 95g/km by 2020 means that governments will continue to cut CO2 emission thresholds within existing car tax regimes in order to maintain income levels.
Subsequently, lower limits will result in fleet managers having to become increasingly creative in selecting the right vehicles for their business.
The 23 countries covered in the printed version of the 2013 Taxation Guide are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
The extended digital version also includes: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Written on April 12, 2013
Despite the continued constraints in the current economic climate, demand for retail-ready de-fleeted vehicles remains strong, according to Manheim’s newest market report of the wholesale vehicle market.
The report found that the sector remained steady throughout March, despite a spike in age and mileage. Even with the increased average vehicle age to 52 months and additional average mileage of 2,186 miles, they average selling price dropped a mere 1.5 per cent.
It was a similar story at BCA, which reports that fleet and lease cars averaged £8,734 in March, a minor decline of 1.3 per cent compared to the previous month.
Year-on-year, the fleet and lease sector has recorded a significant £939 (12 per cent) increase in values, while the average age and mileage were almost static on a month-to-month basis, but down year-on-year.
Manheim’s March figures reported a 4.2 per cent increase in the average value of vehicles year-on-year, with a number of individual niche performances over the last 12 months.
4×4 vehicles recorded an 11.3 per cent growth in values, while executive vehicles have grown an impressive 21.5 per cent over the same time frame.
Darren Wiseman, valuation services manager at Manheim, said: “The retained retail values of ex-fleet stock going to auction continues to remain strong as we reach the end of [the] first quarter of the year.
“Ex-fleet vehicle values have continued to maintain an average value of 35% over the last twelve months, fuelled by strong average selling prices.
“Looking forward, fleet managers must ensure their remarketing supply chain is as efficient as possible. Getting cars retail-ready quickly and cost effectively will help them to realise best wholesale values are reached at auction.”
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Written on April 8, 2013
The Energy Saving Trust has revealed it has trained over 30,000 motorists as part of its Smarter Driving programme, funded by the Department for Transport (DfT).
The scheme, which trains employees in techniques to provide them with the necessary skills and experience to drive more efficiently and reduce the likelihood of being involved in a road accident, is said to have saved fleets up to £7.5 million each year.
Research suggests that drivers who complete the course could save the equivalent of 20p per litre. This equates to around £250 per vehicle on fuel given the average motorist drives around 12,000 miles a year.
Having trained over 30,000 employees in businesses located around the country, the scheme has therefore saved a potential £7.5 million and reduced fleet outgoings in the process.
Bob Saynor, manager of the Smarter Driving programme, said: “Smarter Driving helps companies to cut down their company fuel spend and makes significant reductions to their carbon emissions and green credentials.
“As a further incentive from April 2013, businesses will be able to save up to 40 per cent towards the cost of training in the new financial year.”
The University of Manchester started training its employees within the Smarter Driving programme in January, achieving an average of 39.9 miles per gallon, the equivalent of an 18 per cent reduction in fuel consumption.
Andrew Hough, sustainable travel planner at the University of Manchester, was delighted with the results of the scheme.
“Nearly 100 of our fleet drivers took part in Smarter Driving Training and the overall feedback was very positive,” he said.
“The driving instructors were really friendly and experienced and their guidance will be used by our staff to save money and carbon both at work and in their private lives.
“We hope to run the training again next year, possibly extending it to staff that use their own vehicles for business journeys.”
The programme is aimed at being rolled out at many more businesses in the coming months as the Trust seeks to continue to improve overall driving awareness.
Saynor added: “We have seen hundreds of organisations benefit from our Smarter Driving programme over the last four years. We now hope to reach out to even more businesses to allow them to take advantage of our significantly reduced costs.”
Written on April 5, 2013
The main issue for buyers when acquiring their next new van is reliability, according to the first edition of Company Van Trends quarterly research, carried out by GE Capital’s Fleet Services division.
250 UK fleets running light commercial vehicles were surveyed and asked to rate eight key factors when purchasing their next light commercial vehicle, with reliability ranking top of the pile, ahead of fuel consumption, payload capacity and the importance of a like-for-like replacement.
Simon Cook, LCV commercial leader for GE Capital UK, said: “The research reveals that operational concerns are front of mind for van fleet managers.
“They want vehicles that can carry good loads, are going to start every morning, not need constant refuelling and which can be easily and cheaply repaired.
“It is very much a picture of practicality. Van fleets are expected to deliver and van fleet managers are focussed entirely on doing so.”
Cook also highlighted the relatively low importance of residual values for van fleet operators in comparison to company car fleets who still view this as a key concern.
“This is a reflection of the differing life cycles of company cars and vans,” he added.
“Other parts of our research indicate the way in which van fleets appear to be holding on to vehicles for longer. While four year cycles are still the most popular option, five, six, seven and even eight year fleet lives are now common and 11 per cent of fleets even hold onto their vans right to the end of their useful life.
“In this longer term scenario, residual values stop becoming a major consideration because of the relatively low actual market values when the vehicles come to be sold. Day to day running costs, especially the repairs that keep older vans running, are much more important.”
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