Crisis causing new level of divergence between car and van management, says ServicePoint

20 October

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The coronavirus crisis is creating a new level of divergence between the demands of car and van management, says ServicePoint.

The Allstar service, maintenance and repair (SMR) portal points out that fundamental developments during the last few months mean that many van fleets are now facing higher levels of utilisation while company cars are covering fewer miles.

Paul Holland, Managing Director of UK Fuel at Fleetcor, said: “At the start of lockdown, we saw circumstances emerge where many van fleets were operating under considerable pressure to deliver essential services. For many of them, that situation hasn’t really let up.

“Similarly, car fleets were basically grounded at the same time and, given the large proportion of people that are continuing to work from home and increased use of video conferencing, the mileage covered by many of them has remained much reduced.

“The two questions we believe need asking are how do people in charge of managing vehicles react to this divergence and is it a permanent change for fleets?”

Paul said that the way in which fleets had been recently using the ServicePoint platform provided a strong indication of the manner in which the situation was being handled.

“From what we can see, van fleets are having to deal with two impulses – the need to keep vehicles safe at times of high usage and the desire to keep on top of costs when general economic conditions mean that budgets are under pressure. For cars, the issues are almost the reverse - how to maintain vehicles that are undergoing much reduced use, especially the necessity to check them regularly to ensure ongoing safety.

Paul said that, given the currently rising number of coronavirus cases and renewed government advice, it was likely that the divergence would persist for a while yet.

“Our view is that for the foreseeable future, the journeys that are made in company cars will continue to prove the value of these vehicles as business tools but that there is likely to be much more emphasis on whether travel is strictly necessary or options such as video conferencing can be used as an alternative.

“Conversely, it is difficult to see van fleets becoming much less busy than we are seeing at the moment, being powered as they are by a series of coronavirus trends, especially when it comes to home delivery of goods and services.”

The situation was only likely to substantially shift, he added, when there was some kind of fundamental change in the coronavirus situation.

“This side of the development and deployment of a successful vaccine, or some other solution, we are unlikely to see whether this divergence is a permanent development  because only at that point will we be able to see whether car fleets will attempt to return to the kind of usage patterns that were seen before the crisis.

“Our view at the moment is that the truth will probably lie somewhere between the two positions, that post-coronavirus company car users will cover fewer miles than before the pandemic, but more than at present. The degree is probably impossible to predict.”

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