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LETTERS to Fleet News’ editor Martyn Moore.

Broken promises thwarted our attempts to go greener

I READ with interest Noel Lock’s letter ‘Make green scheme easy to operate’ (Fleet News, January 4).

We decided in 2003 to attempt to make our fleet greener and purchased six Vauxhall Combo LPG vans, mainly for use in London.

This idea will not be repeated. Every one of these vans has spent considerable time off the road for repairs to the LPG system.

The promised infrastructure for refuelling has not come to pass and every year we have to fill in a complex form for each van, although nothing has changed on these vehicles, to continue to be exempt from the London congestion charge.

I do not believe the blame can be put on Powershift.

The only group that will benefit from one million LPG vehicles will be the garages carrying out repairs.

Mick Holderness
Production director, Apex Lifts

  • A Vauxhall spokesman said: ‘Vauxhall has converted more than 15,000 vehicles to LPG since 1998 and we know of a number of repeat customers, some of whom have covered well in excess of 100,000 miles with no issues. In 2005 we extended our warranty cover to three-years/ 100,000-miles rather than 60,000 miles as previously.

    As for a refuelling infrastructure, around a quarter of the UK’s filling stations now sell LPG, which is greater than the original infrastructure proposed by Powershift.

    Mileage can be cut by web conferencing

    I AM writing in response to the article ‘Work smarter to increase flexibility’ (Fleet News, January 4).

    Work Wise says we are ‘obsessed with the need to work from a central location’. Well, the latest survey of fleet drivers we have commissioned has shown that 79% of fleet drivers think managers have a duty to cut back on fleet mileage – with 67% saying companies should introduce a policy aimed at reducing car use.

    Since the survey shows that only 21% of drivers questioned work for firms with such a scheme, there’s clearly enormous scope for improvement.

    Meanwhile, fleet drivers do seem unconcerned by campaigns to cut car use. In fact, a remarkable 67% of business motorists say it would take the introduction of road charging before they reduce their mileage.

    Ironically then, almost half (47%) of company drivers are predicting UK road gridlock within five years. There are now 32 million vehicles on British roads – almost doubled since the 1980s – and it’s still rising.

    However, it’s not all gloom. One green transport group initiative that business travellers do appear to like is its support for web conferencing – 60% of those questioned were in favour of this as a substitute for travelling to a percentage of meetings.

    Andrew Pearce
    Managing director

    CO2 must still be the focus for green fleets

    YOUR front page article on carbon offsetting initiatives ‘Warning over green schemes’ (Fleet News, January 25) highlights a valuable point.

    There is no doubt that the structured assessment and subsequent reduction of vehicle carbon emissions is the most tangible and meaningful way for fleets to prove they are serious about their commitment to climate change.

    Many of our GreenPlan customers have already seen significant benefits in reductions of carbon emissions. They have also introduced schemes to raise awareness of the impact of climate change.

    It is also true that while reduction of carbon emissions should always be the primary aim, many emissions are unavoidable. This is where carbon offsetting can play a part in proving an organisation’s wider commitment to the environment.

    These schemes do not reduce emissions per se, although they can play a significant role in both neutralising carbon footprints and developing climate-friendly projects in third world economies.

    We fully support the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) stance in taking action to establish good practice within the offsetting market. Defra is looking to introduce standards for Certified Emission Reductions offsetting schemes (CERs), which generally involve major industrial projects in the developing world.

    However, our GreenPlan partners are lobbying Defra to also commit to the development of equally acceptable standards in schemes that meet Verified Emission Reductions (VERs) guidelines. VERs can be more motivational than CERs, as they tend to promote smaller scale and local community projects.

    Reducing vehicle CO2 emissions must, however, remain the main focus of any fleet looking to improve its environmental performance.

    David Brennan
    Managing director, LeasePlan UK

    You can’t always teach old drivers new tricks

    I AGREE wholeheartedly with the article ‘Computer or track? How best to train your drivers’ (Fleet News, January 18).

    A well-researched driver training programme can pay for itself many times over in reduced running costs, fewer accidents, fewer days lost to injury, lower insurance costs and reduced administration all round.

    However, too many programmes are designed around changing driver behaviour. Many employees have been driving for years and old habits are hard to break, but if they are not detrimental to driver safety there is little to be gained by changing that behaviour just because ‘they wouldn’t pass their driving test today if they did that’.

    By far the best approach is a pro-active one, focusing on changing driver attitude and preventing the majority of accidents.

    While days spent in a skid car may be exciting and lead to excellent driver feedback, they often focus too heavily on the fun-factor. Online tools can also be unreliable as they bear little relation to on-the-spot decisions.

    Ultimately, there is no substitute for accurately targeted pro-active driver training – prevention is always better than cure.

    Kenny Roberts
    ATC Driver Training

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