A unique report into the most powerful fleets in Britain has revealed how the drive for efficiency is changing purchasing plans and reducing running costs.
The report is based on the Fleet200, a unique group of the 20 largest fleets in each of 10 key industry categories.
They create a community of vehicle operators which control more than £3 billion in annual spending and 484,037 cars and vans. Fleet200 companies also operate more than 50,000 trucks.
This multi-billion pound force in fleet is responsible for around one-fifth of the company cars and vans on the road and the key trends identified among the largest fleets are likely to be reflected elsewhere within their sectors.
Research carried out over the past few months by Fleet News, in partnership with its sister research company Sewells Research & Insight, has identified a clear trend towards reduced spending.
The total annual spend of the Fleet200 companies has been reduced by about £300 million, reflecting reduced overall budgets, lower spending per vehicle and reduced annual mileage.
The drop has been driven in part by lower vehicle numbers, either because companies are reducing the number of people eligible for a company vehicle or because they have fewer employees as a result of the difficult economic climate.
Major fleets are also making a determined effort to ensure their budget goes further for the numbers of vehicles they still operate.
Last year the industry focused on increasing replacement cycles, but this year there is evidence that the focus has shifted to using vehicles more effectively by increasing the mileages at which they are considered due for replacement.
On average, replacement cycles now sit at four years/80,000 miles for cars and five years/90,000 miles for vans.
Some of the longest replacement cycles remain in the cost-reduction focused public sector, with bluelight/NHS Trust fleets replacing cars every 4.2 years on average and vans every 5.5 years.
There is also a trend among a small number of Fleet200 companies to keep vehicles for even longer.
Around 10% keep their cars for more than four years.
Exclusive information and advice
Members of the Fleet200 can benefit from an exclusive online advice and information through the Fleet200 portal.
The members-only website is open only to companies that are listed within the Fleet200 and it enables them to update their company profile and view details about other Fleet200 members.
They can also participate in forums, upload documents and share best practice.
Fleet200 members who want information should contact Fleet News editor Stephen Briers at firstname.lastname@example.org.