According to the latest results from GE Commercial Finance, Fleet Services’ ‘Company Car Trends’, the company’s quarterly survey into developments in the fleet sector, 92.9% of respondents believe fuel prices will have the greatest influence on fleet policy during the next 12 months compared to second placed duty of care (92.8%) and third placed environmental considerations (90.0%).
This is the first time fuel prices have been listed as an option to respondents completing the survey, but the emergence of environmental concerns has been rapidly gaining pace from 57% per cent (Q3 2005) to 80% in Q2 2006.
The rapidly growing importance of green issues can also be seen in the survey’s list of issues that will affect transport in general during in the coming 12 months. Here, 79% of respondents now mention the environment compared to 62% a year ago.
Furthermore, 75% of respondents now include environmental impact as a factor when constructing a fleet policy compared to 50% in Q3 2005.
However, fleets are in widely varying states when it comes to actually meeting their environmental responsibilities.
Thirty nine per cent say that they have a solution in place, 11% that one is being implemented, 32% that one is under consideration and 14% that they are aware of the problem but no action is planned.
Rich Green, managing director at GE Fleet Services, said: ‘The Government’s Stern Report has had quite an impact in fleet circles. While the industry has talked about green issues for more than a decade, we could finally be at the tipping point where widespread, considered and effective action is taken.
'Our view is that the next two years in fleet will belong to environmental concerns in the same way that the last two have belonged to duty of care. In fact, many fleets are in a similar position with the environment today to where they were with duty of care a short time ago. They know that they have to take action and have some degree of expertise but are unsure of their next step.
'What form that action takes is so far unclear. Certainly, the survey’s finding that 40% of fleets have effective green measures in place looks very high to us although these respondents clearly believe that they have some form of environmental solution that is producing results.
'While fleets are far ahead of other departments in most companies when it comes to green issues, very few have some form of formal environmental policy and we believe that these could start to become more common over the next year or two.
'The presence of fuel at the top of the list of fleet concerns could, we believe, largely be a reaction to the short term increase in fuel prices that occurred over the summer. However, fuel prices will clearly continue to rise in the long term as oil reserves are depleted and because of the likelihood of further duty rises following those made in the pre-Budget report. Fuel is an area in which fleets will continue to take a high degree of interest, especially as a fuel efficient fleet is also a greener fleet. The two subjects are clearly linked.
'The impact of Government thinking on fuels will be interesting in the next few months. The pre-Budget report provides very strong guidance for these fleets on where the Government would like them to head in the short-medium term. There is clear backing from Gordon Brown for wider use of biodiesel and other biofuels.
'This route has some big advantages - not least of which is that a proportion of biofuel mix can be used in existing cars through the existing refuelling infrastructure. However, a question mark remains over whether biodiesel and biofuel supply issues can be resolved.’