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LETTERS to Fleet News’ editor John Maslen.

Generous AMAP rates? You’ve got to be joking

SIR – As a reader of Fleet News for as long as I can remember, I felt I must, for the first time ever, respond to the front page of your recent edition (Fleet NewsNet: August 18).

You state: ‘... the already-generous Authorised Mileage Allowance Payments (AMAP) ...’.

As an owner of my own vehicle for the past nine years, I currently charge the company 40p per mile for business use.

Back in the good old days I used to charge 63p per mile and the scheme just broke even then for a 2.5-litre petrol BMW 5-series.

In the past 12 months, the cost of diesel has risen from 73.9p to 90.9p a litre, an increase of 17p a litre or 23%. At 30 mpg nearly 2.6p per mile has been eroded from the 40p allowance in one year.

I would also explain how the AMAP rate numbers have increased dramatically. We employ crane and plant operators. The Inland Revenue used to allow a system of radius payments for travelling.

This is no longer allowed, so a few years ago we put them on the AMAP scheme.

This instantly increased the numbers by 80 people three years ago for our company alone. The rest of the crane hire industry has had to follow suit from April 6, 2005.

Geoffrey Marsh
Marsh Plant Holdings

No opt-out clauses in fleet safety

SIR – It is encouraging to see that taking a blanket approach to safety strategy is being discouraged in features such as ‘Cutting your cloth for a tailored risk policy’ (Fleet NewsNet, July 21).

However, I am concerned by the recommendation that fleet operators should consider which ‘aspects of fleet should be addressed with a risk policy’. There is no opt-out clause in fleet safety and there is no ‘aspect’ of fleet that does not require a risk solution.

Yes, resources should be allocated according to priority, and un-tapping the value within incident data is crucial to identifying these areas. But to exclude part of a fleet because it appears to be ‘low risk’ is, in itself, a risky strategy. Sensibly maximising the value of a restricted budget is a part of any business practice and developing a cost-effective yet robust safety solution is no different.

While I also support the advice to use guidelines from HSE and DFT websites, this only provides a starting block. Further activity to drill down into the specific requirements of each fleet should be taken to create a solution that exceeds mere compliance.

The further recommendation that fleet managers ‘find a way of changing the behaviour of drivers’ is also a much-underestimated comment. It devalues the significant implications in implementing an effective safety strategy and undermines the commitment required to help drive behavioural change.

I fully agree that data insights provide invaluable evidence to form the basis of a business case to take to the board. But the board’s responsibility must not stop with budgetary allocation. To reap the return on investment and protect employees, a safety strategy must be supported by intelligent application, behavioural change and continual evaluation.

Ian McKenzie
Group business development director, FMG Support

Worries over RX400h batteries

SIR – I was waiting for your test of the Lexus RX400h with great interest. Autocar tested the car a few weeks ago and I am afraid you have fallen into the same trap and not thought the whole thing through.

How long does the battery pack last – ie, how many charge cycles? How much does it cost to replace the battery pack, unit price and labour?

What is the environmental damage of dealing with the old battery pack? How will the age of the battery pack affect the used car price?

Tim Raven
By email

Ed: Unfortunately, we only have a limited amount of space each week in which to introduce a car, describe what it’s like to live with and investigate its suitability for fleet use.
Obviously, most cars these days come with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, which is also the usual fleet replacement cycle, so any major mechanical issues which crop up during a car’s fleet life will be covered under warranty. However, such is Lexus’ confidence in its hybrid system that it covers the battery and related systems with a five-year/60,000-mile warranty.

Oil companies are ripping off fleets and private motorists

SIR – While considerable cost savings can be gained by requiring fleet drivers to shop around for fuel, surely fleet managers should be organising to exert pressure on the oil companies directly?

I am amazed at the blatant profiteering that seems to go on, with unjustified price differentials between regions of the country and on motorways, and only competitive prices near supermarkets.

By charging more in regions where they can get away with it and where there are no competing supermarkets, the oil companies continue to rip off fleets and private motorists alike.

Why have fleets not made strong representations to the Office of Fair Trading?

Each oil company should be required by law to charge the same price throughout the country, just like any other national retailer, and that will of course have to be closer to supermarket prices. Proper price competition would then come at last. Pricing of fuel should also revert back to pounds per gallon. Prices in pounds per litre cynically disguise the magnitude of price inflation to most motorists.

Michael Bacon
Finance manager, BHR Group

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