• Large companies with fleets should not rely solely on outsourcing vehicle management to navigate the evolving automotive landscape effectively says Lorna McAtear (pictured inset above)
  • Fleet management is becoming increasingly complex, necessitating dedicated fleet managers to ensure compliance, cost savings, and future preparedness.
  • The transition to alternative fuels is not a distant future but a pressing need. It requires immediate and decisive action from industry players and the government, including better vehicle labelling, simplified regulations, and increased support for EV sales.
  • OEMs need to address operational efficiency and common fleet issues, such as 12v battery problems, to encourage the adoption of alternatively fuelled vehicles. New entrants like Chinese manufacturers are actively engaging with fleets for solutions.

LARGE enterprises with fleets should consider internal fleet managers and not rely on fleet management outsourcing.

That’s the view of Lorna McAtear, Deputy Chair of the Association of Fleet Professionals, as companies try to navigate the ever-changing automotive landscape.

Writing in Cox Automotive’s Insight Quarterly she said:

“Fleet management gets more complicated daily; therefore, those running fleets without a fleet manager struggle even more. Gone are the days of outsourcing to a company to do the basics for you. If an organisation wants to save money, remain compliant, and be prepared for the future, it can do no wrong in employing a dedicated fleet manager.”

She added that industry players and the government are not moving fast enough in the current transition to alternative fuels.

“Transitioning from early adopters to mass market means that much more must happen quickly,” she said. “The time for doing so is now. We will ultimately fail unless we push ourselves to step outside our comfort zones to change, grow and transform. Waiting it out isn’t an option.”

Cox Automotive’s Insight Director Philip Nothard thinks the role of a fleet manager is undoubtedly changing.

Philip Nothard Cox AutomotivePhilip – pictured right – said: “Fleets remain crucial to the future growth of the industry as a whole, and addressing the issues that lie in that area is key to ensuring a smoother transition to a more sustainable future.”

According to Lorna, a whole raft of measures will be needed in the coming years to lubricate the change that’s already happening.

“Everything from better labelling of vehicles (WLTP in all seasons and AC/DC up-to charging speeds); simplifying regulations around vehicle weights, MOTs and licence categories.”

She adds that greater support is needed for EV sales, benefit in kind taxation rules and much more besides.

“None of these appear to be included in the political party manifestos I’ve seen. And they don’t touch on vans, HGVs, niche vehicles or hydrogen-powered vehicles.”

In addition to the needed governmental support, OEMs should be making more significant strides to make operationally efficient vehicles if they want fleets to purchase greater numbers of alternatively fuelled fleet units. 

Lorna says she has been made aware of 12v battery issues being experienced by many fleets. These are the batteries needed to start both cars and vans – and can leave fleet drivers stranded when they go flat.

Apparently this is an increasing problem with electric van fleets where much of the driving is stop-start. Normally the starter motor charges as it is being driven – but stop-start is leading to battery drain.  

She said:

“On a positive note, a few OEMs have remained proactive in this space despite the pandemic, and some that fell short have started engaging and promising to improve things and address the challenges fleets have. And, of course, many new Chinese manufacturers are entering the field of play and asking fleets, ‘How can we help you?’” 

Omoda 5
Chinese brands: keen to help fleets

Philip Nothard added: “The central role of fleets in automotive registrations can’t be denied. That’s why any new government should listen to and act on what sector leaders are saying. That is especially true when it comes to the many issues around charging infrastructure.”

The role of leasing brokers and fleet

Many leasing brokers might take issue with helping fleets manage complex fleets, with broker clients ranging from SME companies to larger fleets.

Vavoom Vehicle Management won Best SME Broker 2024, with judges noting that Vavoom was “Clearly focused only on the business sector. Vavoom is operating like a mini leasing company – offering leaseco-style solutions to customers overlooked by leasecos and in many cases coming up against leasecos – and beating them.”

Last year’s winner, Fleet Alliance, regularly operates in both the corporate and SME sectors helping companies such as Pinnacle Group manage its 500+ fleet, while it aims to reduce leasing costs with its competitive tendering model.

And let’s not forget that leasing brokers deliver that incredible customer elixir called great service in spades: Synergy Car Leasing has won the Best Customer Service Broker Award for two successive years, and has received special Feefo recognition as a result.

“I think leasing brokers have a significant role to play in the management of outsourced fleets,“ commented Editor Ralph Morton. “And while a specialist fleet manager on the inside will undoubtedly assist companies run their fleets more effectively, brokers have such a wide arsenal of management tools that it would be unwise to bypass brokers and the fleet savings, service and expertise that they can provide to the sector.“

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