During a recent meeting of the Association of Car Fleet Operators’ London West division, members commented that when drivers had opted out, they often failed to realise that traditional benefits, such as the support of the fleet department, no-cost replacement car, business insurance cover and so on were not automatically available.
One fleet manager said: ‘If a driver opts out and then has a problem, you might not be so tenacious in helping them out. When drivers cash out, they sometimes believe they can run cars better than we can, but they don’t know about how a car operates, or how a fleet operates.
‘Furthermore, if you cash out, the fleet department loses buying power.
‘Admittedly, an ECO scheme might be different because the company can sponsor it and retain its buying power, but generally, it is not our job to help ECO scheme drivers.’
Members heard concerns that when drivers moved out of a company car scheme, they might benefit from more income, but did not want to spend it on maintaining their vehicles.
This means effective management of drivers is vital. Clearly, ECO schemes are designed to provide the equivalent of a company car, with the back-up of service, maintenance and, in many cases, insurance. However, this level of cover depends on the type of ECO scheme and only serves to emphasise the importance of good management.
Another fleet operator said: ‘With a company car, drivers don’t see the costs. They see the tax, but if they need a replacement hire car, they don’t realise the costs involved in that. ‘It is the little things that drivers forget. They don’t know what it costs to run a car.’
Another said: ‘I have never met a fleet manager who says there is less administration in an ECO scheme. You may save money at the front end, but there is a lot of administration.
‘For example, you need to check business mileage more closely because drivers are reimbursed for the distance they cover.’