Fleets with vehicles impacted by the current lockdown are being urged to start thinking about how they will remobilise their operations when the pandemic ends.
Epyx says that fleet remobilisation plans could include, ensuring vehicles driven infrequently over the past year will be safe for more intensive use and looking at future company transport needs.
Debbie Fox, commercial director at Epyx, explained: “Expert views on the speed with which vaccination can be carried out and the rapidity with which it will impact on infection rates seem to differ widely, but it seems likely that we will see a marked effect beginning some point between the spring and summer.
“Fleets should consider how they will approach this moment as over the last nine months, very few have been operating in anything like a normal manner, but we could finally begin to see a return to face-to-face meetings, for example.
“The new lockdown makes this possibility seem quite distant but change could happen relatively quickly.”
Fox says that from her own company’s experience, they have clients who want to be able to have in-person meetings as soon as they can be carried out safely.
“They desire the human aspect of the relationship they have with us,” she said.
“Video-conferencing has proven to be a really useful substitute, but it will not replace all meetings in the future.
“Fleets should be aiming to effectively manage this transition in order to create positive and defined outcomes rather than letting it happen in a haphazard manner.”
Epyx believes that there are many practical points to be considered by fleets. For example, because of its 1link Service Network platform, it has been closely involved in enabling cars and vans that have been essentially laid up on repeated occasions to be safely maintained.
“Ensuring this is the case can require expert advice as well as driver safety checks, and we have been working with our fleet customers to keep cars and vans in the best possible condition, despite the pandemic,” said Fox.
“Additionally, there have been a lot of interesting conversations going on over the last nine months about what the future of fleet will look like and there appears to be a consensus that it may not be like the past.”
Fox explains that there is a “school of thought” emerging that says the company car will remain the central plank of transportation for most organisations, but it is likely to be electrified and used in a more strategic manner than in the past, for journeys that are believed to be necessary.
“It will also be incorporated into wider mobility strategies that will aim to take advantage of new mobility options,” she said.
“The forthcoming moment of fleet remobilisation creates a natural point to assess concepts such as these and to decide whether they are appropriate for your needs – while this lockdown period could provide the space to incorporate new thinking into structured plans.”
The Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP) believes that the fleet industry is better placed to handle the challenges of a national lockdown as a result of new skills learnt at the start of the pandemic.
AFP chair Paul Hollick says that, while there was widespread fatigue surrounding the current situation, industry professionals now know exactly how to handle its demands.
“Fleet managers are now experienced in this area and almost have a ‘lockdown mode’ into which they shift, where they move to meet a different set of priorities and needs from when looser restrictions are in place,” he said.
“The situation is completely different from last spring, when we were faced with a long list of unknowns and had to improvise our way through an unprecedented situation. This week, we once again are finding ourselves in an emergency but it’s now a familiar one, and fleets know what needs to be done.”