Many of the major suppliers to Britain’s fleets exhibited their services and were eager to talk to the hundreds of visitors about their products. The Fleet News team reports
Ultimate Car Control is embarking on a big push towards the fleet sector with new partners and a new roadshow.
The training firm, run by former British Touring Car champion Robb Gravett, has formed a partnership with Mercedes-Benz to coincide with the launch of the new C-class.
“We’re about to roll out a roadshow for three-hour arrive and drive events, which is being promoted by Mercedes-Benz’s corporate events team,” said UCC’s corporate communications director Barnett Fletcher.
“They’ll be taking place at 10 locations around the country and will give a sample of the UCC course in the C-class. It’s promoting the key features of the car relevant to the company car driver.”
UCC has also formed strategic alliances with road safety charity Brake and insurance organisation Thatcham.
Increasing industry focus on the environment has led Michelin to stress the potential benefits of premium tyres.
The tyre maker says its tyres can improve rolling resistance by up to 20% – a claim it says it can back up. “We’re pushing the advantages of longevity, fuel saving, total life costs and the environment,” said Dave Crinson, Michelin’s sales manager, car fleets.
“We feel a premium product that you have to pay a little extra for is justified.
“Price is still a dominant part of the industry and we’d like to pull away from it some and concentrate on the benefits of the product.”
False mileage claims submitted by company car drivers are costing fleets thousands of pounds every year.
If every driver adds five miles a day to their route, costs could soar into five digit figures within a month.
David Hart, marketing manager at Chevin, said: “If a driver adds a few miles a day on to their route, it will soon add up. One of our clients saved £12,000 in one month alone by introducing the route verification module.”
Chevin introduced the module to its FleetWave software in a bid to ease the work load for fleet managers.
Drivers enter their daily mileage on to a system which is linked to their mobile phone or Blackberry and fleet manages are able to confirm the details are correct using the route verifier.
The perils of vehicle downtime form the basis of a new campaign from Masterlease.
The leasing company has a monitoring service that aims to take the stress out of chasing up services, maintenance and repairs by acting as a liaison between the two parties.
“Drivers and fleet managers are always chasing dealers,” said Masterlease’s regional sales manager Stephen Holmes. “It costs fleet managers a lot of money to have vehicles off the road – it’s time coming out of their core business and we’re trying to manage that.
We have found it’s a common problem and people have a lot of issues. We’re reacting to the market on this.
“Doing this saves both the company and us an administration burden.”
Fleets operating cash-for-car schemes are failing to monitor the condition and usage of vehicles, according to a UK accident management group.
The problem could lead to serious legal cases being brought against company directors and fleets need to safeguard their companies.
Clive Rolfe, general manager, Elite Incident Management, said: “Where a cash option is offered, fleet managers need to check that everything is covered including insurance and the condition of vehicles used. This is something that can get glossed over if the vehicles are not in the office every day.
“However, fleet managers are still liable and they need to have a thorough knowledge of the regulations. If a legal case arose it could cripple a company.”
Daily rental companies need to offer a varied package of products in a bid to keep fleet customers happy.
The days where rental companies offered daily rental alone have gone as more are branching out into flexible leasing and contract hire as competition grows.
Robert Gillespie, business development manager at 1Car1, said: “A lot of companies are now offering the whole package and it will continue to move this way. There are a lot of brokers who offer a varied package but independent companies are doing it more.”
Visitors to CCiA got to meet the new team at MNH Platinum, following the merger between MNH Vehicle Contracts and Platinum Fleet Management.
MNH Platinum already manages or funds more than 10,000 vehicles and the merger will see a new team of directors including MNH directors and founders Mark Hindle and John Epson, Platinum director Steve Barraclough and MNH finance director Justine Pursglove.
Mark Hindle takes the role of managing director of the merged firm MNH Platinum.
The environment, cash-for-car schemes and costs have topped the list of requested information submitted to Lloyds TSB autolease.
Now the fleet management group has dedicated workshops on the subjects and is following them up with online information packages on the environment and cash takers, which are free to its customers.
Lawrence Hamilton, senior marketing executive, Lloyds TSB autolease, said: “We wanted to provide fleet managers with information and guidance from one location. “There is a lot available on the internet but it’s all so segregated.”
Rix Biodiesel’s GoGreen card is a way to buy biodiesel even if there are no filling stations supplying it near your fleet.
Every time a fleet driver buys a litre of diesel within the Keyfuels network of 1,200 garages, Rix will add a litre of biodiesel to its bunkering system for lorries, mostly sited in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
The 5% biodiesel mix can be used in any lorry engine meaning fleets nationwide will be paying for a greener UK lorry fleet – a clever way of using biodiesel when there is none locally. The Go Green card also gives each company a quarterly audit of the carbon reduction achieved.
The boom in satellite navigation products continues as sales are quadrupling year on year.
Sales of portable units peaked in November/December 2006 when they reached 376,000 in one month alone and now one in eight drivers uses a portable unit.
As drivers become accustomed to the units, manufacturers are designing new technology to beat competition.
Phil Davies, corporate sales manager car multimedia, Blaupunkt, said: “Offering navigation is not enough now as drivers want units with built-in MP3 players and road speed warnings.
“The next big thing will be portable units which will be integral to the dashboard.”
Fleet managers of short-cycle fleets should be aware of the costly practice of some in-car phone suppliers of fitting new systems to each car.
According to Tony Kaufman, business development director of Novo Mobile Services, which was sharing the Nokia stand, some fleets are being charged for a complete new hands-free system rather than taking the old system out and putting it in the new car.
Nokia used Company Car in Action to show of it’s latest CK-7W Bluetooth car kit which comes with its own display screen whose colours can be changed to match those of the car’s dashboard.
Halfords is now targeting companies with business services designed to help fleet managers at work.
The group wants to make its products readily available to fleets and depending on the quantity of products ordered, discounts are available.
Nic Snell, national sales manager business services at Halfords, explained: “We want to give companies the opportunity to purchase consumer goods.
Lots of companies want bespoke products which we can offer along with discounts.
Fleet managers can set up an account and drivers can go into their local Halfords and pick up products using the account. Eventually we want to offer a Halfords fleet card which drivers will be able to use in stores across the country.”
Satellite navigation units are the most requested item from fleet managers but Mr Snell also said that products which help with safety issues such as digital tyre pressure devices are also popular.
Grosvenor Contracts Leasing, Britain’s largest independent vehicle contract hire company, highlighted its Go4 fleet management system for opt-out drivers.
The system allows fleet managers to ensure duty-of-care compliance for opt-out drivers and aims to relieve fleet mangers of the bulk of administration for this.
It does this in four steps: driver management (registering drivers, informing them of company and cash allowance policy), duty of care including all driving information such as service intervals, an online quoting system for PCPs and hire purchase, and finally offering staff affinity schemes.