THE UK fleet industry looks set to save millions of pounds every year as an increasing number of leasing companies absorb the cost of replacing damaged tyres on company cars.
Industry experts believe that 'cost-free' tyre polices will become the industry norm following moves by major fleets such as Lloyds TSB autolease and Motability to scrap charges.
Tyres fitted to leased vehicles that are punctured or kerbed are traditionally recharged to the customer by leasing companies, based on the estimated mileage and wear remaining.
Specialist company AA Tyre Fit estimates that adopting a 'cost-free' policy will add less than 10% to the tyre budgets of most leasing companies – an amount it claims can easily be retrieved through savings in reduced administration.
Europe's biggest fleet, Motability, estimated it would save its customers more than one million pounds every year as a result of its decision to scrap charges for replacing damaged tyres (FleetNewsNet July 31).
AA Tyre Fit general manager David Goodyear said: 'Recharging damaged tyres causes more bad blood between leasing companies and their customers than any other issue. A customer has usually chosen to lease a vehicle because they want to pay fixed costs but suddenly they receive an unexpected bill.
'With the lead taken by Lloyds TSB autolease and a handful of others in the leasing sector, we believe that cost-free policies will become the industry norm in a relatively short space of time. It is a much more friendly and consistent way to deal with customers.'
Goodyear says that resistance to cost-free policies in the leasing sector has been based largely on cost but calculations made by AA Tyre Fit show that the typical increase in a leasing company tyre bill will be less than 10%.
He added: 'Because the bills customers receive for these tyres are often disputed they are very expensive to process and, for many leasing companies, the cost of adopting the policy will be cancelled out by reduced administration.'