Fleet News

New plates losing fleet driver appeal

WIDESPREAD apathy towards the introduction of twice-yearly plate changes looks set to consign the rush by fleets for the latest registration cars to the motoring history books. Fleet managers report that very few of their drivers are hankering for the V-plate, to be introduced on Wednesday.

Most, they say, are instead more concerned about a vehicle's specification level while worries about residual values are being dispelled by confidence that the used car market's disinterest in a car's 'letter' will match fleets' increasing indifference. Bob Ganley, fleet manager of retail firm SIG, said: 'The plate change has lost all meaning. There is no interest from my drivers. If a driver needs a new car tomorrow we won't hold back.'

SIG has a 520-strong diesel Citroen/Vauxhall fleet and disposes of vehicles at between three and four years. One of the benefits of the lack of plate change is the little difference it is making on residual values. Ganley said: 'It's early days yet, but we're not having any problems disposing of T-plate cars as we approach V-day. The secondhand buyer seems as disinterested as the fleet driver.'

Nigel Trotman, central services manager for Whitbread which has just under 3,000 mostly user-chooser cars, said the appeal at having the latest plate was being replaced by a wish to have a high-specced car. 'The March plate change went by without a whisper. It's become a less emotive subject to the drivers and the days when we would delay taking a vehicle or get one early to get the latest plate have gone. People are more interested in the product and the package,' he said.

Di Rees, business services manger at Leo Pharmaceuticals, with responsibility for a 175-strong user-chooser car fleet, said: 'None of my drivers are jumping up and down asking for a V-plate. In fact people are slightly muddled by what's happening or don't realise there's a change. We are holding on to around half a dozen cars that should have been replaced in August until September 1 because there will be a slight difference in residual values, although not as great as when we had a single annual plate change.'

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