What does 2016 hold for the UK’s fleet operators?

We asked industry experts what newcomers and trends are likely to have the biggest impact in 2016:

Fuel prices

Predictions for commercial drivers are good: experts say our diesel and petrol pump prices are likely to remain static or even fall a little. The government is expected to raise fuel duty by 2p a litre in April - but that should be offset by continued price falls as the world is over-supplied with oil.

Note that the gradual shift from diesel to petrol vehicles will gather pace and may jump further if the new government duty penalise diesel more than petrol.

Technology trends

Fleet experts predict the rise of hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles will accelerate. Expect a growth in electric charging points too.

Smart phone integration will also take a leap, meaning company drivers can access vehicle-friendly apps on the move, assisting navigation, tracking and journey monitoring.

Hands-free driving systems are very close to full production. Expect some cars to be released this year featuring an automatic stop-start traffic system that will free drivers to check maps and paperwork.

Fully autonomous vehicles are already being trialled by manufacturers. If the huge cost savings outweigh safety fears expect more progress in this direction.

Political trends

Many fleet operators will be concerned about this year’s big debate: whether to leave or remain in the EU. The decisive referendum is expected in June or September this year. The result could have a major impact on many companies’ business plans.

Finance

Interest rates are likely to remain unchanged and sterling is predicted to rise slightly through the year.

More specifically, UK companies registered a record number of new vehicles last year. Experts predict the number of fleet vehicles on our roads will continue to grow in 2016. These vehicles will be increasingly obtained through leasing systems.

Vehicles

VW’s emissions scandal will finally reach the commercial world this year, with affected vans needing a software update at dealers. If you’ve got vehicles that are affected, VW will contact you. Oddly, the problems have galvanised VW fleet sales. The company took number two place in UK van sales last year and is rolling out upgrades and new versions of many of its light commercials this year to challenge Ford’s number one slot.

Other notable 2016 newcomers will be a chunky new Citroen Dispatch, an as-yet-un-named Fiat pickup, and Hyundai’s H350 high-roof large panel van. Best of the newcomers though is a striking one-tonne pickup from Nissan, the Navara NP300. It has a 2.3-litre diesel engine, all-round cameras, automatic emergency braking and a five-year warranty. See more trends here.