It’s difficult to reverse a trend of increasing fleet costs without being innovative and prepared to introduce radical changes.
The changes themselves might seem like common sense, but come with their own challenges, sometimes convincing suppliers as well as senior managers to buy into them.
Fleets shortlisted in the 2013 Fleet News Awards discussed some of the measures they had adopted in the past few years that had shown real cost savings at a roundtable event sponsored by TomTom.
How have you been able to reduce SMR costs?
Steve Thompson, head of transport, West Yorkshire Police: We’ve reduced the fleet below 1,200 vehicles. Our parts budget is almost £1 million. Because we’re public sector we can’t be seen to be spending too much.
We have extended warranties, but many of the repairs we do can’t be claimed under warranty, so two years ago we looked into using recycled parts from written-off police vehicles – we have about 30 vehicles a year that are either write offs or uneconomical to repair.
It was quite controversial when we first did it and there has been a confidence issue, but we do not recycle any parts related to safety.
We recycle body panels, which saves us a lot of money, especially as we run a fleet of BMWs where the cost of replacing doors and front/rear bumpers could be £7,500.
Securing recycled parts drastically reduces costs. When we started recycling parts we started off with body panels, then we looked at mechanical components, but not those related to safety.
This has saved us £278,000 in two years. We have our own bodyshop to prepare our vehicles and maintenance workshop.
Geoff Wright, fleet services manager, Celesio Group: This has been going on in the truck industry forever, and because we have stepped over that threshold it would make it easier for other people running car fleets to do something similar.
It makes it easier to introduce when there’s evidence of other car fleets doing it.
Rick Stillman, (former) head of fleet, South Central Ambulance Service: We’ve started using recycled parts and so far it looks pretty good.
What changes have you made to your car policies that have helped reduce costs?
Geoff Wright: We changed our car policy in 2012 by reducing the number of manufacturers to increase discounts and we reduced CO2 emissions by introducing a 130g/km cap.
We’ve also restricted the number and type of options available to drivers. They now pay toward extras, such as heated seats or folding mirrors.
There were a few complaints from people that they used to get better-specced cars, and it was a long process and a big decision because the car you drive is an emotive subject.
But if you do it in the right way it will be accepted.
Our emissions reduction has been helped by what the manufacturers are doing. BMW was our most popular brand which made it a little easier to bring down CO2 emissions.
Our aim is to impose a cap at 120g/km but it has to be done in line with what the manufacturers are able to offer. With CO2 emissions, drivers are voting with their feet.