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Specification: Substance beats style for fleets

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by Jenny Powley, sales director corporate business, RAC Business

As the latest models hit the forecourts, businesses will be reviewing their fleets and making decisions around new vehicles and company cars.

While priorities for a private car may be space for the family, a different set of specifications tops the list of ‘must haves’ for company car drivers and fleet managers.

Research by RAC Business reveals that 44% of SMEs consider fuel efficiency as the number one priority when buying or leasing a car for business use. In contrast, only 23% put the style and design of a car at the top of their list and as little as 7% viewed technical features as a must-have for a company car.

Clearly, businesses are looking to be cost effective, but it is interesting that style and design are not influencing business buying or leasing decisions, particularly in light of the fact that fuel prices have dropped and overall vehicle affordability has increased.

However, business owners’ priorities did appear to differ depending on UK region. For London-based business owners the style and design of a car is of more interest, with 35% ranking the look of a car as their top priority.

Managers in Northern Ireland were the least design-conscious, according to the stats, with just 11% saying it was key. Regions with, on average, lower wages such as East Anglia had a higher proportion (34%) of business owners choosing affordability as the number one priority compared with just 15% of London-based SMEs.

Decisions also varied by gender, with 54% of women choosing fuel efficiency as their deal breaker, compared with 35% of men. General vehicle affordability was also high on the list for women in the study, with 29% ranking it as important, compared to just 19% of men, which is possibly a reflection of gender wage differences.

Businesses will always be looking to cut costs and work in the most efficient ways. But fleet managers should also be looking for the vehicles and specifications that suit their employees and needs of the business best –  whether that is in terms of impressive mpg, or style and design.


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