But the future could bring a world of change for fleets in years to come. Companies could provide choice lists, service booking and enquiry services through digital television, it was revealed at the Leasing Life conference, called Contract Hire and Rental, Commercial Issues in Strategic Planning. HSBC Vehicle Finance already provides access to a personal contract purchase scheme through digital television.
Tim Holmes, director and head of the leasing firm, said: 'HSBC became the first bank to offer an interactive television product. You can pick up your remote control and get a quote, investigate products and services. We are seeing convergence between the television and the internet. Customers can do as they like where and when they want it, but it is just another delivery channel, along with the internet, phone, fax and WAP phone technology.
'This is becoming increasingly relevant for the fleet industry, as more drivers shift to cash for car options. The company car is not dead by any means, but contract hire companies have to respond to a shift in the customer's behaviour.' Limitations of the current interactive service mean that it is most suited to individual users, but Holmes said the technology lent itself to use by large fleets and leasing companies.
He added: 'The jury is out at the moment on what is best from a business to business perspective.' His comments mirror predictions made by former BCH Vehicle Management chief executive Richard Pepper, who predicted at a seminar at last year's Fleet Show that fleets could see 'armchair leasing' in the next 10 years.