The Association of Fleet Professionals has warned that notions regarding company cars being in decline due to the Coronavirus pandemic shifting working practices need to be corrected.
The fleet operators’ organisation said that while it is probably accurate that “a few” drivers are opting out of company cars due to the growth of online meetings, the bigger picture is much more complex and that overall fleet numbers could even be growing.
“It seems likely that we are going to see a degree of permanent structural change about how some functions go about their business,” said AFP chair Paul Hollick. “The traditional, face-to-face manner of the monthly account management meeting is likely to be consigned to history in favour of Zoom or Teams.”
““However, that only concerns a relatively small part of the company car parc. All the other reasons that cars are operated by employers– from job need to human resources considerations – remain in place,” he continued. “The company car remains a highly effective tool for businesses and, in many instances, the only viable transport option. While mileage for some may be reduced in the future, the journeys that they make are still important.”
Hollick pointed to strong environmental reasons for maintaining corporate vehicles, with company drivers that give up cars in favour of cash likely to choose older and more polluting models than they have come out of, harming corporate social responsibility initiatives.
The AFP also said that the zero rate of company car Benefit-in-Kind taxation for this year, and low rates for the following for years, have made company salary sacrifice schemes more attractive, as well as encourage cash opt-out drives back into company vehicles.
“I’ve worked in fleet for many years and one thing that I have found occasionally frustrating is that fleet managers could do more to promote their own, often significant contribution to the organisations for which they work,” concluded Hollick. “That does need to change and, in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, they should underline the benefits of company cars and vans, as well as the effectiveness of the profession of fleet management in general terms. The fact is that very few businesses could survive without access to road transport, whatever form it takes, and the current situation hasn’t changed that core fact.”