Running a fleet of company cars in today’s world probably involves a lot of head scratching and a serious desire for a crystal ball – whether it be a case of waiting for economic recovery, ascertaining staffing levels or committing to replacement vehicles.
The pandemic has had a seismic impact on everyone’s lives. We have a recession looming, and this is all at a time when many businesses are deciding when to introduce hybrid or electric vehicles into their fleet policies. The truth is, no-one knows how our society will function in years to come. Despite worrying headlines and sad news about job losses, we still don’t know how serious the recession will be.
Is now the time to add alternative fuels to your choice lists?
According to Mary Dopson-Taylor, customer services director at Grosvenor Leasing, when uncertainty reigns the priority is to make your fleet operation as adaptable as possible.
“We are now having far broader conversations with our customers,” said Mary, “such as introducing cash allowances supported by our personal contract hire solution as a means of giving both companies and drivers more freedom and flexibility.
“Salary sacrifice is also back on the agenda because its financial benefits look extremely interesting thanks to the Government’s hugely attractive benefit in kind (BIK) rates on ultra-low emission and electric vehicles.”
Grosvenor Leasing relaunched its salary sacrifice scheme earlier this year in partnership with leading tax advisors, MHA MacIntyre Hudson. The salary sacrifice concept involves employees taking a reduced salary in return for a fully insured and maintained ‘green’ company car. Regardless of whether an employer currently provides cars, this arrangement enables the employer to offer better benefit choices to all employees as well as potentially improving its green credentials – all while reducing costs to both the company and its employees.
As its gains come into play with vehicles with 50g/km CO2 or less, it helps encourage greener vehicles into the business – the strongest advantages being with zero emission, electric vehicles. “We have now grown accustomed to online meetings, with many people challenging the need to drive long distances when they can meet with a click of the mouse,” continued Mary. “As a result of reduced business travel, the EV battery range issues are suddenly less of a concern. The upshot is, we’re likely to see a substantial rise in electric vehicles on our roads and a salary sacrifice scheme is a very appealing means of introducing them into company fleets. “We do, however, appreciate that many drivers remain wary of making the switch to new vehicle technology and electric transmission, and many of our corporate customers are saying that their drivers are torn between choosing a hybrid or electric vehicle now as their next car, or having one more traditional petrol or diesel model for the next three years. “Recognising this hesitancy, Grosvenor Leasing has launched an innovative ‘flexible hybrid fleet transition’ service. This offers businesses competitive short-term leases of hybrid vehicles so that drivers can grow accustomed to the new era of vehicle without being forced to commit. Any company interested in this scheme should contact Grosvenor as soon as possible to reserve vehicles, as demand is likely to be high and there is a restricted stock of short-term hybrids available.”
Based in Kettering, Grosvenor Leasing is the UK’s largest privately-owned contract hire and fleet management company and is part of the Grosvenor Group which has been operating across Northamptonshire since 1981, with well-known brands such as York, Ward and Rowlatt, Croyland Car Megastore and Interactive Fleet Management. According to Mary Dopson-Taylor, developing a portfolio of solutions that give maximum flexibility, supported by expert advice and support, is helping with many of the questions that fleet managers are wrestling with.
For example, if they place an order now, will the company want that car on their fleet in three years? If a driver chooses a petrol or diesel, will they regret that decision and wish they’d gone for an EV? Is contract hire the right choice for the business or, over the next three years, will the company wish it had chosen a different funding / acquisition method? Does the company actually need to offer its employees vehicles, or should they simply move to cash?
“It’s matters such as these which we are now looking to help with by bringing to the table an open mind and some innovative new thinking on how we manage our customers’ vehicle fleets,” said Mary.
“The good news is that, as well as fleet managers, this seems to be striking the right chord with HR directors, finance directors, operations directors and other key stakeholders who are grateful that we are pioneering well thought-through fleet management concepts in a very ‘new’ world.”