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Letters to Fleet News editor John Maslen

Cash alternatives: a dangerous road

SIR – As a long-time staunch defender of the traditional company car in the wake of the growth of a variety of cash alternative and employee car ownership schemes, I was delighted to read my industry colleague Richard Schooling’s comments in Fleet NewsNet (letters, March 10).

He said: ‘It is clearly time for a wholesale re-evaluation of the drift away from effectively-funded and managed company car fleets.’ Cash alternatives and employee car ownership schemes in their various forms have been promoted by benefit consultants and some leasing companies as a boon to employers and employees alike largely because company car tax liability is not applicable.

At face value, employees are being offered cash sums which may seem attractive but in many cases they are not, leaving employees, particularly in small and medium-sized companies, out in the cold as employers look to reduce costs by paying staff as little as possible to buy them out of their company car.

Experience also shows that ECO schemes invariably do not generate the savings claimed for either the employer or the employee. They also require expensive professional advice both to establish and operate on an on-going basis.

All-in-all, alternatives to the company car are a very dangerous trend for companies and their staff and to the very future of the fleet industry.

For vehicle funders and leasing companies promoting individual ownership of cars there is a huge knock-on effect on their own staff and administrative costs, which are bound to be passed on to end users. How can these companies efficiently deal with hundreds of individuals when they have been used to undertaking business with one fleet decision-maker per company?

In addition, as my colleague concedes, with ever-toughening health and safety legislation governing at-work driving, employers, by encouraging staff into certain company car alternatives, are throwing away control of the cars that staff drive which could impact on corporate image and increase staff downtime in the event of vehicles being off the road.

I hope other colleagues across the fleet and leasing industry join me in battling to reverse the decline of the company car by proclaiming its benefit as an environmentally-friendly, cost-effective and hassle-free tool in the recruitment and retention of employees and not by destroying its very existence.

NICK BROWN
Managing director
Black i Vehicle Management

Speeding: attitude change is needed

SIR – With 3,000 deaths per year caused by speed-related road accidents, it is clear that something needs to be done to prevent drivers from speeding. Recent suggestions that reducing car engine revs would help restrict the speed people drive, I would argue, is somewhat missing the point.

Limiting car revs may reduce speeding on high-speed roads, but this is unlikely to have an influence on roads where the speed limit is 40mph or less.

The real focus needs to be on looking at ways of changing drivers’ attitudes to speeding. People are often genuinely oblivious to the fact that once behind the wheel of a car they have control of a lethal weapon, even at low speeds.

Simple training programmes and assessments for drivers, that are presented in the right way, can help to educate and transform drivers’ attitudes to speeding. If we concentrate on addressing the root of the problem, namely attitude, the rest will follow.

DAVID WELHAM
UK MD Futuremedia
Brighton

Tyre sealants: the definitive viewpoint

SIR – Regarding the letter from Brian Rhodes of Superseal (Fleet NewsNet letters, March 10).

The title of his letter: ‘Tyre sealants have come a long way’ is quite correct – sealants have indeed come a long way. However, I must respond to some of his comments. I must rebut the allegation he makes that the British Rubber Manufacturers’ Association (BRMA) and tyre manufacturers are opposed to recommending a sealant on the basis of negative impact on new tyre sales. This is totally unfounded.

Mr Rhodes states that ‘tyre sealants are marketed as a puncture prevention and never sold as a puncture repair’. Tyre sealants cannot prevent punctures. They can, however, prevent or limit the loss of inflation pressure at the time a tyre suffers a puncture. The paragraph that follows this statement in Mr Rhodes’ letter can easily be interpreted as stating a repair is effected by the sealant. Even worse it can be taken as implying that it constitutes a permanent repair too.

Maybe Superseal is not marketed as a tyre repair, but anyone who cares to browse the web and search under ‘Tyre Sealants’ will see for themselves that many sealants are in fact marketed as a puncture repair.

Turning to the BRMA statement on liquid tyre sealants itself, I suggest Mr Rhodes reads it more carefully as it makes it clear that the tyre manufacturers’ combined concerns relate to the misuse of tyre sealants.

While I am not familiar with the Superseal product in particular, Mr Rhodes’ description suggests it is of the pre-puncture variety.

One important point overlooked is that, just because modern sealants are effective in sealing the hole created by a puncture, it is dangerous to assume structural damage has not and will not occur. The BRMA’s concern is that, if there is no visible inflation pressure reduction, the driver will be unaware that a penetration has occurred and that he is therefore unlikely to observe if any structural damage to the tyre has taken place.

In the event that the tyre’s structure has been damaged, its continued use could easily lead to a serious failure of the tyre. BRMA recognises that tyre sealants have a place in today’s driving world. It is, however, post-puncture sealants, where the driver is aware that the tyre has been damaged before the sealant is applied, that pose fewer risks.

Another point overlooked is that tubeless tyres do not instantly deflate following a small penetration. Air loss is gradual and this often gives the driver some warning that a tyre has been damaged.

A J DORKEN
Director
British Rubber Manufacturers’ Association

Fleet News is delighted to receive readers’ letters. E-mail fleetnews@emap.com or write to:
The Editor, Fleet News, Emap Automotive, Lynchwood, Peterborough Business Park, Peterborough PE2 6EA.
Please ensure that e-mails include name, job title, company and company address

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