Two leading figures have warned that fleet managers must adapt or die in a new environment where the company car must be considered as just another part of a company's travel requirements.
Even national fleet managers for multinational firms could find their roles swallowed up in international consolidation unless they show the value of their expertise and ideas to employers, experts claim.
A new report, published on Tuesday, highlights the changes facing fleet managers, calling on UK employers to conduct a complete fleet audit in order to establish the future role of fleet executives and company cars. The report, sponsored by Overdrive Business Solutions, says companies could even consider business car provision as a last resort after the audit.
'Few organisations can give an accurate and up-to-date figure as to the true cost of personal business mobility, or even the true cost of providing business cars for employees,' warns the report, 'Rethinking the Business Car'.
'The critical issue from a policy viewpoint is perhaps not the exact cost, but the trend and the order of magnitude of total business mobility and of the company's provided cars.'
Report author Professor Peter Cooke, of Nottingham Business School, outlines an action plan designed to identify and meet a company's travel needs with a wide variety of solutions.
He said audits should examine spending on business mobility of all kinds, ranging from cars to trains and taxis, with a review of historic and projected changes.
'The provision of an additional business car should no longer be treated as a knee-jerk reaction. Such a change in corporate thinking is a challenge indeed,' said the report.
'The introduction of a well thought-through personal business mobility strategy will mean a change in the role of the fleet executive, from merely managing cars to co-ordinating a multi-modal strategy – with cars as part of the total.'
Fleet executives throughout the world are facing the same challenge to their futures, according to Garrey Melville, a consultant with Elmark management consultants.
He warned that in-house fleet decision-makers in the UK must adopt an international outlook or see their roles swallowed up as companies consolidate globally.
'Pan-European car fleet management is growing at a rapid pace as organisations recognise the added bargaining power that it gives them in driving down fleet costs,' said Melville.
'For fleet managers to survive this consolidation process they need to take control of the fleet or end up under the control of another fleet manager in another country.'