Fleet News

Councils could lead the way on pool car usage

NEW technology is proving that pool fleets can be run just as cost- effectively as flexible options like daily rental – and local councils could set the standards for the future.

Local authorities are among the biggest users of pool car fleets and executives at Drive-IT, a system which supplies web-based pool car management systems, believe there could be huge savings for fleet managers.

One of the major problems with pool car fleets is ensuring that the minimum number of vehicles is used for the maximum amount of time, so vehicles don’t spend half their time sitting in car parks.

Drive-IT enables fleet managers to create databases showing how, where and for how long a vehicle is used for. Mileage records and reports can enable organisations to reduce pool fleets to a minimum number of vehicles for a maximum number of staff. Wear and tear is also an important factor, as drivers frequently abuse pool cars and treat them as mobile dustbins.

This is where computerised systems and car sharing can be a real advantage. For example, internet-based pool car management systems allow drivers to book vehicles online, while a supplier can monitor the vehicles.

Drive-IT is a software solution for vehicle sharing that provides users with a central internet-based booking and administration system.

It enables drivers to book vehicles via the internet, through a call centre or even directly from the car.

It manages the use of vehicles and enables a call centre operative to communicate with the vehicle. Time slots are allocated to drivers with the relevant key cards, whether the vehicle is needed for a day or an hour.

Colin Cartwright, who heads the Drive-IT system at Cybit, explained: ‘Drive-IT can help local governments to optimise vehicle pool management, potentially cutting the actual number of vehicles used and reducing the space in car parks and local authority depots that they can take up. Vehicle fleets are one of the most expensive local government assets and they cost even more when they are not fully utilised.’

If a fleet’s vehicle choice list covers a range of fuels and sizes, Drive-IT can ensure the most economical vehicle for a journey is used. This is done by comparing past databases which show mileage and journey times.

Cartwright said: ‘We are ideally placed to help local authorities encourage the use of different and more appropriate types of vehicle for individual journeys. For example, a social services manager could use an electric vehicle for an urban journey and a more efficient LPG-powered vehicle for a longer journey.’

Fleet managers can obtain proof of vehicle and driver usage for timesheets, giving them better control and visibility of fleet investment. The fleet manager’s role is also simplified as drivers have keyless entry to vehicles, a suitable vehicle for all journeys and 24-hour a day booking lines through the internet.

How pool sharing works

  • Drivers in a vehicle sharing scheme are issued with their own smart card that provides vehicle access
  • Drivers can then book their vehicles in one of three ways – by phone via a booking centre, over the internet or remotely from the vehicle
  • Booking details are sent automatically to the vehicle’s in-car communications module 30 minutes prior to the start of the booking
  • When drivers arrive at the vehicle, all they have to do is present their smart card to the access module which is located inside the vehicle
  • Providing the smart card details match the booking, the vehicle door is unlocked. Keys are stored inside the vehicle, typically in a secure storage compartment
  • The driver then enters a PIN code into the Drive-IT display module, which confirms both the User ID and their booking
  • A correct match de-activates the vehicle’s immobiliser and the vehicle is ready for use
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