Fleet News

News Review 2005

WE take a look back at the highs and the lows of the last year in fleet.

JANUARY

FLEET sales reached an all time record, climbing to their highest level in the history of the market.

The news came as the new car market as a whole fell short of beating 2003’s record figure.

Fleet accounted for 1,093,494 unit sales with a 42.6% share of the new car market.

The Ford Focus remained the biggest-selling fleet car, while Vauxhall remained the top selling manufacturer in fleet. Toyota achieved the largest sales jump of more than 20%.

FEBRUARY

CAMPAIGNERS claimed that fleet drivers were at the centre of a speeding ‘epidemic’ on Britain’s roads, putting lives at risk every day.

Industry groups claimed that nearly four-fifths of fleet drivers admitted to speeding most days, compared to just half of private drivers.

The RAC Report on Motoring found that the number of drivers speeding had increased by 10% compared to a year ago, with some 15 million motorists breaking the law every day by exceeding the speed limit.

MARCH

THE Government revealed the new Corporate Manslaughter Bill in one of the final steps towards making companies liable for any failures in duty of care to employees driving on business.

The Bill was designed to ensure that companies could be prosecuted, with conviction leading to unlimited fines.

The draft updated the existing laws on corporate killing that insisted an individual had to be found guilty of an offence, rather than the company.

APRIL

MG Rover went into administration after a possible deal with China’s Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC) stalled and nervous suppliers stopped deliveries.

The final cars at Longbridge left MG Rover’s production lines and administrators were attempting to allay fears among workers that they would face huge bills for the 12,000 vehicles on the employee car scheme.

Reports had suggested that employees were told they may be liable for loans taken out to buy new MG Rover cars.

MAY

THE police called for accident black boxes to be fitted as standard in their fleet vehicles used for pursuits amid concerns over the levels of driver training given to officers. The Police Federation claimed information recorded by the technology could be used to help learn lessons from accidents. It said that only one in three police vehicles were fitted with black boxes and that training offered to drivers was ‘postcode lottery.’

JUNE

IT was suggested that a major pay-as-you-go transport plan unveiled by the Government could significantly push up motoring and administration costs for fleets – but it could be two decades away.

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling said replacing car and fuel tax with road charging was essential if Britain was to avoid gridlock. If the proposed plan went ahead it could mean charges of up to £1.34 for busiest routes and 2p a mile in remote rural areas.

JULY

TRANSPORT Minister Dr Stephen Ladyman praised the fleet industry for keeping Britain moving and made a commitment to listen to the concerns of fleet decision-makers.

In his first major interview since taking office, Ladyman sent a message to fleets, saying: ‘This sector is very important to me and very important to UK plc.’

Ladyman said he had a particular affinity with company car drivers, as he drives 18,000 miles a year in his job.

AUGUST

FLEET fuel budgets were under increasing pressure as the soaring cost of crude oil sent prices through the roof.

The average price of a gallon of petrol stood at more than £4 and experts said prices could stay high because of increased demand from China and concern over factors such as the Iraq war.

Industry chiefs warned fleets of the need for careful planning of fuel strategies as it emerged UK businesses could be paying at least a third of a billion pounds extra each year for fuel.

SEPTEMBER

HURRICANE Katrina caused havoc in America and the UK fleet industry was bracing itself for even higher fuel bills.

The winds that battered New Orleans and the southern US cased extensive damage to America’s oil refineries. Nine refineries around the Gulf coast were put out of action, causing a shortage of oil and petrol in the storm-lashed American south, leading to the cost of fuel rising to record highs with no sign of imminent reduction.

OCTOBER

DECLINING standards of van driving prompted the Government to launch a training programme to push up standards and create a more positive image of the sector.

The Department for Transport (DfT) announced plans to launch a van training scheme across the industry, as well as commissioning research into the market in a bid to better understand driver behaviour and accident rates.

The DfT earmarked £40,000 for the pilot and research programme, before increasing its spending when the scheme goes live next year.

NOVEMBER

FLEETS called on Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown to change mileage reimbursement rates in order to encourage drivers back into company cars.

Fleet managers’ association ACFO claimed that the current rates were too generous and encouraging business motorists into opting out, where they could make profit out of high business mileages. The industry body wanted the 10,000-mile threshold to be lowered to a figure more like the 4,000-mile level that was in place until 2002.

DECEMBER

FLEETS welcomed a move that would allow them to continue to reclaim VAT on fuel bought by individual drivers. HM Revenue & Customs introduced new legislation that allowed companies to continue to claim VAT on fuel bought by their drivers providing they had a VAT receipt for every fill-up. Companies had been warned that they would be unable to reclaim VAT on fuel bought for business use. unless the company was invoiced for the fuel directly.

Fleet News Awards

MARCH 16 saw more than 1,200 people cram into the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane for the Fleet News Awards, the biggest night of the UK’s fleet calendar. John Webb of HM Customs & Excise (left) won UK fleet of the year while the Audi team (right) won four awards.

CCC AND FN50

THE Fleet News ‘Challenge, Change and the Customer’ Conference on November 2, followed by a dinner to reveal this year’s FN50 listing of the UK’s top leasing companies, proved a huge success.

Various top names from the fleet industry gave speeches during the day, while the evening saw Lex Vehicle Leasing take the coveted top spot in the FN50.

NEW WEBSITE

NOVEMBER 10 saw the launch of a brand new website courtesy of Fleet News, aimed specifically at company car drivers – www.companycardriver.co.uk.

The site features road tests, a news section, a company car comparator, forum and business mileage tracker.

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