LARGE companies with fleets should not rely on outsourcing the management of their vehicles because dedicated fleet managers can better navigate changes.

Writing in Cox Automotive’s Insight Quarterly produced in the UK, the deputy chair of the Association of Fleet Professionals, Lorna McAtear, said fleet management was becoming increasingly complex, necessitating dedicated fleet managers to ensure compliance, cost savings, and future preparedness.

“Gone are the days of outsourcing to a company to do the basics for you,” she said.

Lorna McAtear

“If an organisation wants to save money, remain compliant, and be prepared for the future, it can do no wrong in employing a dedicated fleet manager.”

As an example, she said the transition to alternative fuels was not a distant future but a pressing need. 

“It requires immediate and decisive action from industry players and the government, including better vehicle labelling, simplified regulations, and increased support for EV sales,” she said.

She said industry players and the government were not moving fast enough in the current transition to alternative fuels.

“Transitioning from early adopters to mass market means that much more must happen quickly,” she said.

“The time for doing so is now.  We will ultimately fail unless we push ourselves to step outside our comfort zones to change, grow and transform. Waiting it out isn’t an option.”

Cox Automotive’s insight and strategy director, UK-based Philip Nothard said the role of a fleet manager was undoubtedly changing.

Philip Nothard

“Fleets remain crucial to the future growth of the industry as a whole, and addressing the issues that lie in that area is key to ensuring a smoother transition to a more sustainable future,” he said.

Ms McAtear said a new range of measures will be needed in the coming years.

“Everything from better labelling of vehicles (WLTP in all seasons and AC/DC up-to charging speeds); simplifying regulations around vehicle weights, MOTs (roadworthies) and licence categories,” she said.

“Greater support is needed for EV sales, including ‘benefit in Kind’ rules and much more besides.”

The changes will not be needed only by fleet operators. Ms McAtear said OEMs will need to ensure their vehicles are operationally efficient if they want fleets to purchase greater numbers of alternatively-fuelled fleet units.  

“On a positive note, a few OEMs have remained proactive in this space despite the pandemic and some that fell short have started engaging and promising to improve things and address the challenges fleets have,” she said.

“And, of course, many new Chinese manufacturers are entering the field of play and asking fleets, ‘How can we help you?’.”  

Mr Nothard said: “The central role of fleets in automotive registrations can’t be denied.  

“That’s why any new government should listen to and act on what sector leaders are saying.  That is especially true when it comes to the many issues around charging infrastructure.”

By Neil Dowling

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