Fleet News

Cash–takers ‘are opting back again’

DRIVERS who dropped their company cars and took money instead are becoming increasingly disillusioned and are opting back in.

According to the experiences of Volvo Corporate Sales, both drivers and fleets are starting to return the safety of a company car after dallying with private ownership.

Many fleets thought washing their hands of responsibility for drivers on business would save them money, but the pressures of duty of care have seen a reversal of attitude, Ian Rendle, corporate sales manger for Volvo says. Drivers are also realising that opt-out deals were not all they were cracked up to be, he added.

Rendle said: ‘Increasingly fleets are coming back in-house. Health and safety and corporate manslaughter are the main drivers of this.

‘The average driver doesn’t understand the cost of running a car. Companies offer them a cash lump sum up front which seems very attractive, and so drivers think they can opt out and buy a much better car, but by the time they have paid for fuel, servicing and maintenance it costs a lot more than they thought.

‘After two years of opting out, drivers are increasingly finding the experience is not all it’s cracked up to be. The company car is very much alive and intact.’

Rendle’s comments come as fleet expert Professor Peter Cooke warns that companies contemplating cash alternatives to company cars are unaware of the responsibilities that lie with such a move.

Speaking to delegates at the Employee Benefits Conference in London, Cooke, professor of automotive industries management at the Nottingham Business School, said many assumed that doing so would absolve them of responsibility for drivers using their own vehicles for work purposes.

Cooke said: ‘Organisations are looking to give people an allowance and say ‘hey guys, it’s your responsibility to drive safely now’. It’s not.’

Cooke said it was much more difficult to ensure the roadworthiness of employee-owned vehicles than fleet cars.

He said: ‘It’s so much more difficult for the organisation to be able to establish proper audit trails for cars owned by employees. They could be walking into trouble because they can’t outsource the responsibility for duty of care.’

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