Fleet News

Critical year for role of fleet decision-makers

THE need for a specialist fleet executive within organisations will be critical this year as employers brace themselves for massive changes, a new report suggests.

The Business Car Expectations 2002 survey calls on fleet executives to act as a linchpin between boardroom and drivers - not just in the face of the changing company car tax system, but also in the light of growing health and safety legislation and mounting environmental concerns.

'The responsibility of the board for the proper use and management of the business car is growing, thus putting the spotlight on the operations and management of the fleet,' said the report.

'The fleet executive can no longer see the role as reactive; he or she has to become increasingly proactive in terms of the vehicles, their management and the associated financial issues.'

The report shows a fleet landscape set for a dramatic shake-up, with 39% of fleet decision- makers expecting the changes to benefit-in-kind tax to cause a reduction in the number of company cars.

Furthermore, 63% of respondents thought tax changes would lead to drivers downsizing while 60% expected more drivers to take a cash alternative to the company car. Tax changes aside, 36% of decision-makers said that managing pressures on business costs was one of the most significant issues they faced over the next five years.

The report was published by HSBC Vehicle Finance and written by the Centre for Automotive Industries Management (CAIM) at Nottingham Business School, and questioned 311 decision-makers representing a company car parc of 45,500 vehicles.

Peter Cooke, report author and head of CAIM, said fleet executives must evaluate wider company car image and policy issues. And he warned that fleet executives unable to adjust to the changes would have a limited shelf life. 'The role is no longer a simple one of managing a fleet; it is rapidly becoming the management of personal business mobility,' he said.

Tim Holmes, director of HSBC Vehicle Finance, said: 'Fleet management continues to evolve in the face of political, economic, sociological and technological changes. The role needs to become more strategic to consider wider issues.'

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