November 1, 2022
Here at Wessex Fleet, with nearly 20 years in the fleet management industry we know that there are a few challenges that are commonly faced by fleets of all sizes, which is why we wanted to put together this piece to look at some of the more generalised challenges your business might encounter.
In this article we’ll focus on 12 of the largest and most common issues faced by UK fleets, which are:
- The digitalisation of vehicles
- The cost of fuel
- A market shift towards EVs
- Vehicle maintenance
- Vehicles being off-road
- Environmental controls
- Low Emission Zones
- Driver behaviour
- Driver safety
- Outdated fleet policy
- Adhering to budgets
- Regulation compliance
If you have any fleet management queries that aren’t covered or want to discuss your fleet’s needs then you can speak to one of our team on 01722 322 888.
Cars and the methods we use to monitor them have changed and while the shift to digital has made a lot of things easier it doesn’t come without challenges.
Digital vehicle dashboards and infotainment systems can be a distraction for drivers and you should make sure that your drivers understand when is appropriate to use these systems and the best way to utilise them when in the vehicle. This might seem unnecessary but part of your duty of care is to make sure your drivers are safe when on the road.
Additionally technological advances have created telematic systems that are capable of monitoring driving habits and styles, driving locations and routes and much more. These are all great features that allow you to better manage your fleet vehicles and drivers, as well as spot areas of concern and address them. However, having these features to report and manage requires additional resource in order to pull reports, monitor and action these.
In order to help manage the management of telematics you might want to employ a third-party company, like Wessex Fleet, utilise software support or have a dedicated member of the business’ internal fleet team who has dedicated time to look after this aspect of fleet management.
In the current climate, the cost of fuel is a concern for drivers and businesses around the country, and the fluctuating prices at the minute are making fuel prices harder to budget.
One way to combat this is to diversify your fleet’s fuel supply by adding hybrids, EVs and even hydrogen-powered models. If you are not able to move away from traditional fuel types then you’ll want to make sure there is a combination of petrol and diesel models with the best possible mpg and that these are assigned to drivers in a way that maximises fuel economy, so drivers who regularly travel long distances in a diesel vehicle and pool cars that are used to move between sites are petrol.
The use of fuel cards can also be beneficial to help you keep track of the company’s fuel spending and budget for the predicted volume of fuel needed and an approximate cost based on this. Fuel cards will also highlight the vehicles using the most fuel that may indicate a need for maintenance work or a more efficient vehicle in that position.
In the UK all sales of new vehicles that are not zero emissions will be banned from 2030 and to prepare this a lot of manufacturers are moving towards hybrid and electric vehicles. For environmental and sustainability reasons we do recommend moving your fleet to lower emission vehicles and electric where possible, however this does bring with it a number of challenges.
Firstly, drivers may be resistant to the vehicles as they might not understand the technology or have outdated concerns over low range and slow charging. One way to combat this is to provide additional information on the range and charging of modern EVs, which is much longer and quicker that the first EVs, where many of these concerns come from. We recommend promoting EV information and the benefits for them of driving one.
Another driver related area of concern with EVs is the change in driving style. Electric vehicles are all automatic and so drivers who have never used an auto might have some issues at first with this. Additionally, because there’s no combustion engine, acceleration can be much quicker, energy is recaptured via regenerative braking which requires softer and slower braking
Outside of the drivers’ concerns, another issue that may arise is that the range of commercial EVs might not be enough for your van needs. Manufacturers are working to improve the ranges of their vans and LGVs to ensure that by 2030 they can fulfil the needs of their drivers however right now an EV might not be the right choice for your business. Where possible we advise looking for vans with hybrid technology so that your drivers become accustomed to the driving patterns needed for an EV when you do make the switch.
All of your fleet will need regular maintenance, servicing and repairs in order to keep them safe and road worthy. As vehicles age the maintenance they need will increase and so will the cost of this, especially if they are covering a large mileage.
There are a few strategies that we recommend to help minimise the costs. The first is to have your drivers conduct regular inspections of the vehicle condition as this will help them to detect any issues soon after they arise, which can reduce the risk of issues developing into larger problems.
Alternatively, you may want to look at the available finance options for the best one that fits your needs. If you are only wanting to keep the vehicle for a few years, before the maintenance costs start to increase then leasing might be a better choice than purchasing the vehicles.
You can also arrange for maintenance support or a package depending on the vehicle finance option which can help reduce the cost of maintenance and with monthly payment options makes it easier to budget in your cashflow.
When vehicles are damaged or in need of maintenance work they won’t be usable on the road and there are drivers without a vehicle for that period of time.
There are two strategies that you’ll want to use to reduce the time a vehicle spends off-road and the impact of it being off-road. We’ve already mentioned driver vehicle inspections and with drivers spotting issues soon after they occur then this will reduce the work needed and should reduce the time they need to spend off-road for repairs.
In order to reduce the impact of an off-road vehicle you might also want to make sure there is an alternative vehicle available for the driver to use. This could be a case of reallocating a pool car or hiring a short-term rental vehicle for the driver.
With climate change becoming more of a concern for people around the world we are seeing a rise in environmentally based regulations and controls to try and reduce the emissions we are producing. Cars with a traditional combustion engine emit harmful pollutants and we’ve seen changes in recent years to try and reduce these. A lot of the changes are on a national level and sit with the manufacturer, such as new cars adhering to the WLTP emission levels as required by the EU, but there are some impacts your business will feel. For example, the emission levels of a vehicle and their compliance with regulations will impact the tax you pay for the vehicle.
Another area where the vehicle’s emissions may cost your business is with the introduction of clean air zones (CAZs) and low emission zones (LEZs) which charge higher polluting vehicles to drive in them.
In recent years we have seen a rise in the number of these zones outside of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone, which has also expanded, as cities and towns move to reduce emissions in their area.
We recommend making sure that you check the cities your drivers live, work and visit to see if there are currently any of these zones or plans to introduce them and what level of zone it will be if it’s a CAZ. You’ll then want to look at the fleet vehicles that are driven in this area and modify
A driver’s behaviour can have a significant impact on the vehicle’s condition and particular driving styles can lead to a vehicle needing more maintenance work. For example, harsh braking can lead to the brake pads wearing quicker.
It’s not just the driving style that fleet managers need to look after but also the driver’s general behaviour in caring for the vehicle, and participation in vehicle checks and driving training.
There is no uniform approach to combatting difficult driver behaviour as each driver is unique and we advise dealing with each situation on an individual basis. There are a few general approaches that can help mitigate this kind of behaviour arising in the first place and they include:
- Improving driver engagement with the vehicle
- Regular training on the best driving habits
- Accessible support documents
- Tailored support for drivers in areas they struggle with to improve their driving
- Utilising reporting functions to spot problem areas and then taking action based on these
The safety of your employees is a high priority when they’re working and this is also the case when they’re behind the wheel of a company vehicle as well.
A large part of fleet management is ensuring your drivers are safe through a combination of vehicle condition, driver support and accident and risk management planning. Appropriately managing these three areas will help make sure your drivers are as safe as possible when on the roads. This will involve being on top of vehicle maintenance and servicing, driver training and support and having risk and accident strategies in place.
Some businesses continue to use outdated fleet management strategies or have practices in place simply because things have always been done that way. We all know this isn’t a good enough reason for continuing to do something and that’s especially true in fleet management.
As fleets change their needs and the best ways to manage them will also change which is why we recommend having an annual review of your fleet management strategy to make sure it still works with the overall business and fleet goals. You might also want to put in more regular reviews if you are implementing a new strategy to see how successful it is and for early detection of any issues that may be occurring with it.
Another challenge that is faced by all departments in your business, but especially one with variable costs like fleet management is budget adherence.
There are a few different strategies you can put in place that will help you keep to the budget and you’ll probably want to implement a combination of them to get the best results for your business. Regular maintenance and servicing will reduce the overall lifetime costs of a vehicle as it will be in better running condition and any issues spotted early on. You should also consider the funding method for your fleet and how you can use an alternative or combination of funding methods to get the best prices for the models you need.
If you want to learn more about effective fleet management to help you keep within the budget then just give us a call on 01722 322 888.
There are a few different areas of law that intersect when it comes to company cars and business drivers, mainly employment and driving regulations.
It’s important that your fleet team keep up to date with any changes to the laws that affect your business or the fleet and where appropriate communicate these changes to your drivers. When advising drivers of changes you might want to provide supporting literature or ask your employees to sign a document to confirm they have read and understood the legal changes and adjustments they need to make based on this.
We hope that you’ve found this article useful in the challenges you face with your business’ fleet and are here to help if you have any questions about the topics covered or any other aspect of fleet management.
Enjoyed this article? Read more of our latest blogs below:
- Why You Want to Invest in Driver Training
- Why You Should Promote Car Sharing
- Answering Fleet Driver FAQs
- Why Your Business Should Invest in Dash Cams
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