Ordering on the outright purchase fleet will begin on April 1 and sparks a major overhaul of options being offered to the organisation's company car drivers. A backlog of about 3,000 orders has already built up since the firm put car buying on hold, which was partly to consider the future shape of the fleet and also because of massive uncertainty over residual values and new car pricing. The introduction of carbon dioxide-based company car tax in 2002 was also a key factor, as the company wanted to examine how it could help high-mileage drivers who could see their tax rise substantially.
As part of the relaunch, the fleet department, headed by general manager of BT Fleet Janet Entwistle, will be asking manufacturers to tender for the new business, with the intention of cutting down the current choice list of 21 makes. The number of suppliers will be decided by the quality of the submissions they make and will be announced in July. The firm's standard three-year/60,000-mile replacement cycle will remain.
Entwistle said: 'We have a backlog of orders to get through and we have to manage that bow-wave, concentrating first on drivers with the oldest cars or the highest-mileage vehicles, but we expect to get back to normal in June.' The review will also lead to a shake-up of the company's cash-for-car offering, with an unspecified increase in the money available for moving out of a company car to about £5,000 a year on average.
From July, the firm will also be offering a personal contract hire package to employees who opt for cash, aimed at offering the benefits of a company car, without the tax. Despite the wider choice, Entwistle estimated 80% of the firm's 10,000 perk car users would still opt for a company car, backing recent studies that have shown the company car is still the most popular part of a firm's pay package.