Fleet News

End of the road for unloved pool cars?

IN many company car parks, there is a sad, battered looking vehicle huddled in a corner of the plot, looking uncared for and unloved.

Meet the pool car, the runt of the business car litter, without a good home and swept aside by drivers at the first hint of a better option.As a result it passes its days wasting away and – more importantly – costing the company money.

According to Diarmuid Fahy, general manager for ProAct and rental services at Interleasing, many companies would be better off giving their pool cars the boot and opting for daily rental instead.

He said: 'With a pool car a company is stuck with the same vehicle for three years, whereas daily rental allows a firm a greater choice of cars, whether it wants a people carrier or to hire a more executive car if senior personnel are visiting.'

Admittedly, if the pool car is well used and doesn't spend much time sitting in the company car park it still has a future, but more often than not it spends a lot of time out of action.

Whereas an unused pool car simply costs money, with rental cars a company only pays for what it uses.

For example, Fahy estimates that a typical pool car, on a contract hire basis, costs about £11,000 over three years – or 524 short-term hire days (based on an average daily rental charge).

He said: 'If we take into account working days, the pool car would have to be in use for 72% of the time to break even. This doesn't take account of the cost of car parking spaces either – which cost on average between £300 to £500 a year, or more if they are in a central city or London location.'

As well as the cost of the car parking space, there are also security concerns if the vehicle is left for long periods in the car park, he said.

Fahy suggests that if pool vehicles are idle for about 30% of the working week, it is well worth examining alternative options such as daily rental. And because many pool cars bear the scars inflicted by drivers who have little interest in caring for them, there is also the issue of driver attitude.

He said: 'Unfortunately there is often a negative association among employees with having to drive the pool car. This can be a vicious circle because as the vehicle gets tattier, people don't treat it as well. With daily rental, the vehicle will always be clean and well maintained.'

Also, when the pool car is out of use for any reason, for example servicing or an accident, the company is going to either be without a vehicle or will have to provide an alternative.

Fahy added: 'There is still a place for pool cars, as long as they are in use enough for them to be cost effective, which would be 72% of the time. It is important that companies look at the usage and see whether they could benefit from switching to a more flexible short-term hire solution.'

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