FN: Where does the environment figure in the decision-making process?
SD: We incentivise our drivers to choose greener cars; our average CO2 is around 136g/km.
Drivers pay an allowance each month for private use of their car, but we give them a 30% discount if they choose a car below 120g/km.
We also give them a 30% discount if they take a reallocation car, so we have very few on the fleet.
The AA strives to use the most environmentally-friendly vehicles on fleet. However, due to the nature of our business and the fact that we are a national fleet, we cannot support electric or hybrid vehicles for operational needs.
All AA fleet commercial vehicles are Euro 4 or 5, all our vehicles are fitted with a manufacturer speed limiter, and all our operational fleet is installed with a telematics unit.
We have also recently purchased two electric vans which operate out of Wimbledon providing breakdown assistance.
We also now have a national motorbike fleet which has reduced our requirement for large, less efficient vehicles operating in major conurbations.
FN: How do you tackle end of lease recharges?
SD: We used to have a problem with the AA Driving School vehicles because they would be returned in any sort of condition.
Now, anything above fair wear and tear is recharged back to the instructor. Our recharges have fallen from £430 per car to £180.
We also recharge our other company cars for any damage but only if it has not been reported. It goes to the line manager who decides whether to charge the driver or take it on the cost centre.
Dopson is a vital link in the chain that preserves the AA’s claim of being ‘the fourth emergency service’.
Average response time is around 40 minutes (point of call to the patrol arriving), which is helped by the call handler’s ability to identify the issue to ensure the right type of response vehicle is sent, while speed of repair is assisted by the on-board diagnostics system.
Every week she meets with regional managers, technical specialists and service and delivery personnel to identify issues with the fleet and consider new initiatives.
Dopson admits she loves the variance thrown up by operating such a diverse and complex fleet of vehicles but it’s certainly a major commitment. How does she manage it? “Long hours,” she replies.
Support comes from a variety of sources, including her peers in the Major Fleet Forum and the Fleet200.