A series of seismic changes to the shape of the car market and the way the company car industry is taxed will require expert staff within company ranks to look after staff cars, a conference heard.
CO2-based Vehicle Excise Duty and company car tax, together with the potential end of Block Exemption and ever-increasing demands for fleets to adopt ever-cleaner cars are among the challenges the industry faces.
The call was led by one of Europe's most experienced fleet managers, Maureen Allgood, UK group fleet manager and international category manager lease cars for Philips, at a Maximising the Benefits of Your Car Fleet conference, in Birmingham. Allgood, one of the founder members of the Institute of Car Fleet Management, now runs a major pan-European fleet, including about 2,000 vehicles in the UK. She warned that although employers could outsource the everyday management of their fleet vehicles, they could not dispense with a skilled person to look after key aspects of the fleet.
'The key lesson is that no-one takes care of your money as well as you do yourself - once you have put successful controls in place. Control of fleet costs has to start with good management information. There must be a clear understanding and good market knowledge. I get very irritated with suppliers who assume they can save me money without knowing my business.'
Nick Brownrigg, conference chairman and managing director of Interleasing, called for fleets to act as beacons of best practice both to the Government and to private car drivers.
Brownrigg said: 'Hopefully this will lead to a growth in knowledge. The fleet industry as a community can influence usage patterns of all UK drivers through encouraging them to adopt best practice. They could act as a benchmark to all drivers and that would be beneficial to the fleet industry as a whole.'