Risk management issues may see fleets become among the very earliest adopters of driverless cars, predicts Chevin Fleet Solutions.
If the vehicles’ technology is proven to drastically reduce at-fault accidents, the pressure for fleets to acquire them may be overwhelming, says managing director Ashley Sowerby (pictured).
He said: “Driverless cars represent potentially the biggest revolution in personal transportation that we have seen since the invention of the car itself.
“With Volvo starting to undertake trials in London next year and other studies underway in a number of countries, that revolution could be nearer than we think.
“And, thanks to health and safety considerations, it could be that the fleet industry becomes one of the earliest users. The promise of a potentially accident-free fleet will be too great an attraction to resist.”
Sowerby said that research indicated that there was likely to be resistance among drivers to autonomous vehicles but that, again, the risk argument was likely to win.
“If the choice facing a large organisation boils down to, drastically reduce the risk of accident from your fleet or upset a few drivers, then managers can only responsibly make one decision," he said.
“Following on from this, the adoption of driverless cars prompts larger questions, such as whether the emergence of the autonomous car will lead to a general rethink on fleet ownership and car allocation.
“There is a long list of potential issues. Will the one car-one driver model survive? Will fleets continue to buy or lease cars, or instead use vehicle-on-call services? Will it lead to the emergence of a general corporate mobility model?
“All of these need to be considered and there is a chance we will have to start to tackle them within five to 10 years. It is not imminent but fleet managers should certainly ensure that they are aware of the key issues.”