Fleet News

Boardroom battle over fleet policies

DECISION-MAKING power is being taken away from fleet managers as an increasing number of human resource and finance executives get a bigger say in how company car policies are operated.

A new study has suggested that the traditional fleet manager is becoming more of a consultant rather than leading from the top.

A quarterly survey by GE Fleet Services found a growing number of human resource and finance directors have become more influential in making fleet decisions, claiming: ‘The fleet manager’s role is evolving into a more consultative function.’

Peter Cooke, KPMG professor of automotive industries management at Nottingham Business School, said there were potential dangers of handing over decision-making to non-fleet experts.

He said: ‘Previous research has shown the fleet manager is letting go of the reins. They should be the experts and it is up to them to ensure boardrooms are kept up-to-date with headline fleet statistics.

‘Company car policies are based on many factors and it is fleet managers who should be aware of the bigger picture. Decisions should not be based solely on costs – safety is paramount and that is where fleet expertise comes in.’

Commenting on the finding, Acfo chairman Tony Leigh said the role of the fleet manager was still vitally important.

He said: ‘Fleet managers with colleagues from HR and finance departments, for example, are instrumental in designing a fleet/mobility strategy which is right for the business in which they work.

‘Fleet managers are then responsible for implementation. This is far from being a consultant. It is utilising their knowledge and experience in tandem with other departmental chiefs to ensure optimum business efficiency and effectiveness is achieved.’

Despite concerns over a shift of power, of the 850 executives questioned almost all regard duty of care as the most crucial factor in fleet policies.

A total of 95% of respondents in the GE Company Car Trends study put duty of care at the top of their fleet agenda – up 6% from a study carried out by the firm 12 months ago.

Applauding fleets for their duty of care concerns, GE Fleet Services managing director Rich Green said: ‘With company car drivers 50% more likely to be involved in road accidents, it seems our respondents’ primary focus on duty of care is indicative of the fact that many companies have recognised their fleet responsibilities.’

The survey shows that almost 95% have policies on the use of mobile phones while driving and almost three- quarters have, or are implementing, measures on duty of care.

Survey at a glance

  • More than two-thirds of respondents expect an increase in the provision of company cars to essential users, up by almost 10%.
  • Vehicle reliability (92.6%), wholelife costs (79.6%) and driver taxation (63.2%) have moved up the fleet priority list over the past year. Only the choice of manufacturer has declined, down by 2.6%.
  • 40% expect their company’s and the economy’s prospect for growth to decline over the next six months.
    Source: GE Fleet Services Company Car Trends
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