The issue has been cited as one of the biggest concerns for 2006 in a survey of UK fleet managers collectively responsible for running more than 50,000 vehicles.
Compiled by the UK’s largest leasing company, Lex Vehicle Leasing, the annual survey includes ‘getting cash drivers back into company cars’ listed as a top 10 concern for the first time in the survey’s four-year history.
Managing director Jon Walden said: ‘We have found that more companies have started moving back to company cars after moving to cash options a few years ago.
‘This is really among the larger companies and talking to them it all seems to be based on their aim of getting their duty of care house in order.
‘Too many companies aren’t aware of the quality of car their employees are using for business use, but when drivers are using a company provided car they are safe in the knowledge that it is fit for purpose.’
Lex’s latest study lists the top 10 concerns fleet managers will face over the coming year.
The biggest priority remains health and safety/duty of care responsibility for drivers, with more than half of respondents putting it at the top of their agenda for 2006.
Walden added: ‘It’s good that so many companies realise that corporate liability is a real issue and one that is going to remain on the fleet agenda.’ In second place was vehicle running costs, which commanded 32% of responses. Other concerns were residual values, speeding and speed cameras, legislation, congestion charging and road tolls.
And for the first time, the annual survey also gathered fleet views on smoking in company cars, with more than three-quarters (77%) saying it was dangerous and that the Government should introduce legislation similar to the law that bans the use of hand-held mobile phones behind the wheel.
The company was surprised that only 10% of fleets consider fuel prices as a major issue, particularly as the price of filling up has risen considerably over the past 12 months.
It found that the biggest mover in the list was residual values, which leapt from seventh place to fourth.
Fuel prices and running a greener company car fleet increased two places to third and sixth respectively.
The findings that a growing number of large fleets are keen to get drivers back into company cars comes just weeks after a major report by financial services giant Deloitte predicted that the company car will make a major comeback in the next few years (Fleet NewsNet, December 14).
Although it suggested well-managed opt-out schemes will have a future role to play, the Deloitte report, called Goodbye Company Car?, said that for many the company car offers a guarantee that at-work drivers have properly maintained and insured vehicles.