Stuart O'Brien, Author at Fleet Summit
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Stuart O'Brien

5.3% of fleet vehicles are Euro 4 or older – Research

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5.3% of company cars and vans being operated by customers of FleetCheck only meet the Euro 4 emissions standard or older.

That’s according to new analysis by FleetCheck, which says further 18.2% of vehicles from the total sample of 85,792 also fall behind the latest Euro 6 legislation by only achieving Euro 5.

Peter Golding, Managing Director at FleetCheck, said: “We compiled these figures to illustrate the disparity that currently exists across fleets when it comes to emissions. While at one extreme, some are actively working to achieve zero emissions, at the other, we can see that almost a quarter of all the vehicles our customers operate are Euro 5 or older.

“Because there is a strong SME bias in our customer base and these businesses tend to hang on to cars and vans for longer than corporates, they are probably worse than the fleet parc as a whole. However, they remain an indication of how far the industry will have to travel to achieve the kind of low or zero emissions performance we’d all like to see.”

Golding added that most of the oldest and most polluting vehicles in the analysis appeared to be diesel vans, many of which were operated on a spare or pool vehicle basis.

“It is not uncommon for smaller businesses to continue to operate vans until they become uneconomic to repair or too unreliable for everyday use. Even some of the latter will be kept in the yard as a spare van and used occasionally. However, there is a strong argument that these vehicles shouldn’t be on the road at all, given their poor emissions.”

Over the next few years, he added, there was a strong possibility that the introduction of Clean Air Zones would start to see more of these vehicles disappear from fleets.

“While CAZs have arguably got off to a slow start, it seems likely that at least some will ultimately move to the ULEZ model and operate a Euro 6 minimum for diesel vehicles,” said Golding. “This is one of the factors that will start to see some of these older vans start to disappear.

“However, well ahead of that point, more could be done to persuade fleets to stop operating these vehicles. That might mean disincentives using measures such as Vehicle Excise Duty or it could mean incentives such as wider use of scrappage schemes.

“On a simpler level, the economics behind the ongoing operation of these older vans are often highly questionable, and getting this message across to businesses is also something that we perhaps should be communicating more widely as an industry.”

5 minutes with… Mike Palmer, Nexus Vehicle Rental.

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In the latest instalment of our fleet industry executive interview series, we sat down with Mike Palmer, Client Development Director at Nexus Vehicle Rental, to talk about his company, industry opportunities, COVID-19 challenges and why straight talking is so important in business…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

Established in 2000, Nexus Vehicle Rental is the UK’s leading tech-driven business mobility provider with a supply chain of more than 550,000 vehicles across 2,000 locations. We supply cars, LCVs, EVs, specialist and HGVs and one day, when they’re available for commercial use, we’ll supply autonomous vehicles. Our innovative platform, IRIS, streamlines rental management for our customers, driving large cost savings for them. 

What have been the biggest challenges the Fleet Services industry has faced over the past 12 months?

As we have weathered the storm Brexit presented, with political and economic ambiguity over the last 12 months, we are now facing continued uncertainty surrounding the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on the country. Many companies are already scaling back operations significantly and will face serious issues in the coming days / weeks/ months as their normal supply chains are unable to continue at usual capacity.

We have also seen challenges of increased supply chain costs, in the main as a result of the WLTP changes, which saw more stringent laws and testing on vehicle fuel consumption and CO2 emissions from passenger cars. On top of this businesses are also seeing increases elsewhere such as higher pension costs and rises in living wage. 

Our large supply chain does allow us to mitigate some of these rising costs and risks to ensure that we can keep any pricing increase as low as possible for our customers. Unfortunately, for smaller companies and direct rental businesses this can be very difficult and again, in many cases these businesses have been forced to scale back operations. 

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

As supply chain costs are increasing and legislation is changing, many direct suppliers are now unable to service the largest contracts due to fleet scale and higher demand. Nexus is ideally placed to service large scale contracts, as we have access to the largest supply chain in the country.

As a disruptor in the corporate vehicle rental industry, we have revolutionised the sector through our use of technology, which keeps overheads low, but means we deliver rental efficiencies for our customers at every step. We understand the rapidly evolving situation surrounding COVID-19 is putting greater pressure on businesses, local authorities and front-line workers. As many businesses in the UK must adapt to new ways of working, we want to do what we can to support our clients keep operations running smoothly.

What is the biggest priority for the Fleet Services industry in 2020?

As we continue to navigate the current situation surrounding COVID-19, businesses are facing times of huge uncertainty, not just in the fleet services but across all industries. 

This uncertainty will not go away anytime soon. As we are forced to adjust to a new way of life and working for the foreseeable, we will see businesses continuing to scale back operations and adapting operations to drive cost efficiencies. The flexibility that comes with rental means that businesses can scale fleet needs at any time, to increase vehicles on the road to deal with peak periods or downsize fleets when demand is reduced, so I think we’ll see an uplift in businesses adopting rental moving forward.

Times like these highlight the need for businesses to remain flexible, agile and adaptable to changing conditions. While looking after the wellbeing of the workforce, clients and suppliers’, the priority for the fleet services industry will remain in delivering great service and keeping people and goods mobile, wherever and whenever it is safe to do so. 

As fleet rental providers, it has been important for Nexus to recognise changing requirements and customer demands and to adapt our service offering to reflect the needs of our clients and comply with legislation. 

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2020?

Phases of ambiguity often highlight the real benefit of remaining flexible, and this has led to growth in rental in recent years. For those organisations that need to scale-up their fleets quickly whilst mitigating costs, short term rental will prove an excellent solution. As the situation surrounding COVID-19 shifts every day, many are choosing to adjust operations to meet demand in a different way to ensure that individuals and other businesses can continue operations safely.

Until recently, we have seen a rapidly increasing demand for electric vehicles across all modalities. Legislation is a key driver of changes to the market with the introduction of Clean Air Zones (CAZs) and Ultra Low Emissions Zones (ULEZs), propelling the need for innovation in cleaner transport solutions. 

Nexus continues to lead the way with its new dedicated EV rental platform for business use as part of our revamped IRIS V5 rental management system. The platform eases the transition process by assisting our clients to gradually trial and make the switch to EVs – while avoiding high upfront expenditure. We are constantly looking to develop our services with new and innovative software and IRIS is our flagship product that facilitates this.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

The rapidly evolving situation surrounding COVID-19 is putting great pressure on businesses and authorities to ensure that operations run smoothly. As a result of this economic uncertainty, vehicle manufacturers are announcing that production will be halted. What we thought would be the biggest trends will likely lose focus against a backdrop of businesses just trying to continue operations. 

Electric vehicle technology was set to have a huge impact this year, with the introduction of zero rate BIK tax for all EVs in April to act as a great incentive for businesses to make the switch. Those that may have been previously unsure of how they could financially benefit from going green may be encouraged by this, though must consider the associated challenges from doing so, such as increased repair and maintenance costs for fleet vehicles. 

The government is sign-posting fleets towards a greener future of electric vehicles and hybrids as we know, however, the impact of the widespread adoption of this technology will continue to prove a challenge. What happens if your electric company car goes in to be serviced and you have no choice but to drive a petrol or diesel replacement? 

It is still a big decision for businesses to make this switch to EVs due to the huge investment required to do so, yet high demand means that orders of electric vehicles can still take up to six months for delivery. As a result, we have observed a rising trend of short and medium-term EV rental bookings to plug the gaps in supply and keep fleets moving and expect to see this escalate over the year. 

In 2022 we’ll all be talking about…?

In 2022, I’m sure we will all still be talking about the same things that we are now such as new fuels, self-driving cars and alternative forms of mobility! There is a lot of work still be done to improve infrastructure to enable implementation of these technologies and this will take huge amounts of investment over the next few years before any of them can become the norm.

Over the last few years, there has been more enthusiasm surrounding the possibility of hydrogen-fuelled cars for one, despite the current industry-wide thinking that EVs will become mainstream. It could be interesting to see what developments are made over the next few years regarding hydrogen, as we have seen the EV uptake at the moment is still fairly slow due to associated costs and uncertainty about the level of infrastructure to facilitate this transition. 

I think fully autonomous cars may be a bit of a distant dream for now. However, we are increasingly seeing the adoption of automated features in new cars with self-parking settings, adaptive cruise control and automatic braking systems. Realistically, the safety aspects of autonomous cars will not be ironed out for some time and I am not sure how many people would fully trust this kind of technology right now. 

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Fleet Services sector?

I think one thing that surprised me was how many people stay in the industry for such a long time – I have worked in fleet management for 15 years! I think in other sectors, businesses tend to see people move around a lot more.  

It does mean there a lot of experts within our business who have considerable experience of the industry, not just in rental but from various backgrounds such as leasing or finance. This enables us to advise customers on the best way to manage their mobility requirements with genuine knowledge and expertise. 

You go to the bar at the Fleet Services Management Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

Easy, Southern Comfort. 

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

I face different challenges every single day – no two days are the same. In this industry we are kept on our toes, reacting to constantly moving goalposts by the government especially, tackling issues around taxation and changing environmental targets, whilst providing the best service at the best price point. 

For example, a few years ago, barely anyone was driving electric vehicles and now we are readying ourselves for the complete removal of petrol and diesel vehicles in the next 15 years. While the industry still adapts to new legislation and changes announced by the government, Nexus is on hand to support businesses in their day-to-day – we must be agile. 

Through a tech-enabled, flexible approach, rental saves businesses both time and money, making it an extremely viable option in the current economic climate and in any times of uncertainty. 

And what’s the most challenging?

I think the most challenging thing is the same as what keeps the job exciting. We are constantly having to change the way that we do things and ensure that we can provide our customers with the most up to date and appropriate advice given developments within our industry.

As a business we ensure we remain flexible, agile and able to adapt to a constantly changing environment so that Nexus remains at the forefront of the industry. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 

“Always tell it how it is. People will appreciate the honesty.”

Peaky Blinders or The Crown?

Peaky Blinders.

Do you specialise in fleet Accident & Risk Management? We want to hear from you!

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Each month on Fleet Management Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on a different part of the fleet & logistics market – and in April we’ll be focussing on Accident & Risk Management solutions.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help fleet buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a supplier of Accident & Risk Management solutions and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Chris Cannon on 01992 374096 /

Here’s our features list in full:

Apr – Accident & Risk Management
May – Fleet Management Software
Jun – Telematics
Jul – Contract Hire & Leasing
Aug – LPG/Alternative Fuel & Fuel Management
Sep – Vehicle Tracking
Oct – Duty of Care
Nov – Grey Fleet
Dec – Service, Maintenance & Repair

Fleet Source tackle CPC-compliant driver shortage

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The training bar needs setting higher, according to Fleet Source’s Nick Caesari. But quality driver training should not be a privilege.  

“With some 68 billion miles by commercial vehicles on Britain’s roads in 2018* and an ever-increasing number of vulnerable road users, as one of the largest fleet training and auditing providers in the UK, we recognise it’s our responsibility to help fleet operators tackle the ever-increasing challenges of our busy road networks.

“We want to set the training bar higher to reduce the number of collisions on our busy roads and ultimately help save lives. The most expensive training doesn’t always mean the best and our industry is rife with inconsistent pricing and quality.  

“To help towards this goal, our newly-launched ‘Essentials’ range brings Driver CPC training costs down to as little as £350 per course – or just £14.58 per driver**.”

*Department of Transport – Road Traffic Estimates 2018

**Subject to contract term and minimum annual spend commitments. Excludes Vulnerable Road User training such as Safe Urban Driving, Van Smart and Safe UK Driving. 

Your ticket to ride at July’s Fleet Summit

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There’s a complimentary guest place reserved for you at this summer’s Fleet Summit on July 13th & 14th.

Can you confirm you will be joining us?

This small, niche event is far removed from the busy and crowded traditional expos and conferences, and takes place at Heythrop Park, Oxfordshire.

The Summit will give you access to innovative suppliers who can help reduce your expenditure for a series of pre-arranged meetings based on your requirements. You can also attend a series of seminars, and network with like-minded peers.

Overnight accommodation, all meals and refreshments, plus an invitation to our networking dinner, are complimentary.

If this would be useful for your business, please confirm your attendance here!

Places are limited, so register today or contact me to avoid disappointment.

SEAT experimenting with driver fatigue detection tech

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SEAT is experimenting with technology that studies a driver’s eyes and head movement to detect if they’re falling asleep, as part of its Xplora innovation hub initiative and ongoing partnerships with Israeli start ups.

The manufacturer has partnered with Eyesight Technologies, which uses advanced computer vision and artificial intelligence to improve road safety.

The firm, based in Tel Aviv, has developed an algorithm which analyses the eye openness, angle of vision, blink rate and head position of the driver, along with other visual attributes.

In the event it detects that the driver is drowsy, asleep or perhaps distracted by their mobile phone, it will trigger an alert.

The technology can also identify the driver from previous trips and adjust the seats, mirrors, heating settings and other cabin features according to their personal preferences.

SEAT says that eventually the software will be able to detect pedestrians and analyse whether the driver has spotted them as well.

Stefan Ilijevic, the Head of Product Innovation at SEAT, said: “In total more than 90 per cent of the road accidents in Europe are caused by human factor.

“The main reasons include distraction and tiredness, excessive speed and alcohol and drugs.

“At SEAT we are working on solutions to prevent negligence behind the steering wheel and significantly reduce road accidents.

“We partner with some of the world’s brightest companies on important technology to save lives, since our long-term vision is a world with zero accidents.”

Eyesight Technologies is based in Tel Aviv, Israel, with the Mediterranean city a hotspot for tech companies – boasting 6,600 startups, 800 of which are dedicated to the car industry.

Another firm working with SEAT is Gauzy, which has developed an active glazing technology that adapts to the weather conditions.

SEAT say it could give the driver the ability to darken windows, within legal limits, to avoid being dazzled by the sun, and lighten the windows in darker environments and weather conditions.

Gauzy was started in the kitchen of one of its founders, who was looking for a way to make windows more private.

In fact, it seems Israel is a bit of a hot spot for automotive innovation – there are currently 6,600 startups in Israel, 800 of which are dedicated to the automotive industry.

SEAT launched Xplora with Champion Motors, which is the Volkswagen Group’s brand importer in Israel, and in two years has worked with more than 200 emerging Israeli businesses.

Their team is responsible for finding solutions that enhance well-being and safety, cybersecurity, sustainability and artificial intelligence.

The aim is to carry out at least 10 proofs of concept every year to test how selected innovations would adapt in vehicles and services.

Aitor Aizkorreta, the Head of Scouting for SEAT in Israel, said: “This concentration of emerging companies makes Tel Aviv one of the easiest global innovation hubs to explore for solutions that improve our cars and services.”

Ilijevic added: “If you want to be a leader of the disruption in the car industry instead of a spectator, then not only do you have to be in Tel Aviv, but in the world’s other major technology hubs as well.

“If we want to shape the future, we have to be in the most innovative ecosystems.

“It not only enables you to be the first and apply new technologies, but you can also attract the best talent, as they want to work in companies that are spearheading change.”

Fleet Summit – Created especially for you

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This summer will once again host the Fleet Summit – a unique event designed specifically for fleet management professionals like you.

8 & 9 June – Heythrop Park, Oxfordshire

  • Your personal two-day experience will be created based entirely on your own requirements and interests…
  • Receive a bespoke itinerary of 1-2-1 meetings with suppliers who match your business requirements and upcoming projects.
  • Choose to attend a range of insightful seminar sessions hosted by industry thought-leaders.

Meanwhile, we will provide all of our guests with full hospitality, including overnight accommodation, all meals and refreshments, plus an invitation to our networking dinner.

We have just 60 complimentary guest passes, so register today, so that we can start creating your own personalised experience at the Summit.

RAC: We’re more dependent on the car than a year ago

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35% of UK drivers – equivalent of 14.7m people – say they are more dependent on using their car than 12 months ago, with public transport seen as an expensive and unreliable alternative.

That’s according to data released as part of the latest RAC Report on Motoring, which show a further rise in the proportion of drivers who say they rely on their cars as their main mode of transport – increased dependency is up from 33% in 2018, and from 27% a year earlier, and is now at its highest proportion in the past seven years.

Just 14% of drivers (the equivalent of around 5.9m people) say they have become less dependent than a year ago, though this has also increased from 12% in 2018 indicating a small rise in those saying they are less dependent on their vehicles.

At a time when the Government and local councils are keen for drivers to use their cars less frequently to improve air quality and cut congestion, the RAC says it believes the findings are a stark reminder of the reality for many people, especially those who live outside the biggest cities – that for good or bad, millions of people remain enormously dependent on their cars for many types of journeys.

The top reasons drivers give for using their cars more are a greater need to transport family members (28%), family and friends moving further away (24%) and, perhaps most strikingly, a reduction in the provision or quality of public transport (25%) – with drivers in the North East (42%) significantly more likely to call this out as a reason for them increasingly turning to the car.

Drivers are particularly frustrated by the lack of feasible alternatives to the car for the journeys they need to make, according to the data. Most – 57%, the equivalent of almost 23.9m people – say they would be willing to use their cars less if the quality of public transport was better, and agreement with this statement has been high for an incredible 11 consecutive years. Around half of drivers (53%) say they are frustrated by the lack of feasible alternative modes of transport for long journeys, with a similar proportion (52%) saying the same about short journeys. These figures both rise to 55% for drivers aged between 25 and 44.

Among drivers who would be willing to use public transport more, half (50%) say the reason they don’t use public transport more is that fares are too high – up by five percentage points on last year – while 41% say services are not frequent enough. Meanwhile, a growing number of people (36% – up from 31% in 2018) say that a lack of punctuality is a significant barrier to them using public transport as an alternative to driving, and 38% say services don’t run where they need them to.

Of those who would be willing to consider using public transport if services were better, almost a third (31%) say they would make more use of it if there was greater availability of services – a figure that rises to 40% for rural motorists, reflecting to some extent the significant cuts that were made to rail services following the Beeching Report and, more recently, to rural bus services as highlighted last year by the Parliamentary Transport Committee.

The RAC’s findings also show that motorists who live in London are more likely to use alternatives to their cars compared to drivers elsewhere in the UK. In the capital, on average 38% of each driver’s weekly journeys are made either by public transport, walking or cycling, compared with a national average of just 24%.

For those who live in villages or other rural areas, cars typically account for an enormous 85% of all journeys, with just 15% currently represented by public transport, cycling or walking.

Across the UK as a whole, an overwhelming majority of motorists (73%) say they would find it very difficult to adjust to life without a car – with more than half (54%) of this group stating this is because their vehicle is essential for carrying heavy items. Given the capital’s more comprehensive public transport system, a smaller proportion of drivers in London (58%) say they would struggle to adjust without a car – compared to 84% of motorists who live in villages and rural communities.

Join the UK’s fleet industry this June

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There’s a complimentary guest pass reserved for you to attend the Fleet Summit, which takes place 8 & 9 June at Heythrop Park in Oxfordshire – claim it today!

This unique event is entirely FREE for you to attend – simply reserve your place here for the opportunity to:-

  • Source new innovative and budget-saving suppliers
  • Learn from inspirational seminar sessions hosted by industry thought-leaders
  • Network with like-minded fleet professionals who share your challenges
  • Enjoy complimentary overnight accommodation, plus all meals and refreshments
  • Attend our networking dinner

RSVP now to avoid disappointment!

GUEST BLOG: Maximising uptime through a data driven approach to rental

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David Brennan (pictured, above), CEO of Nexus Vehicle Rental, discusses the benefits of maximising uptime through a data driven approach to rental…

As consumption habits continue to shift from ownership to usership, vehicle rental has become an integral part of businesses’ mobility plans across a wide variety of industries including logistics, construction, retail and even specialist sectors, such as waste management. 

As uncertain economic conditions continue, businesses are less inclined to invest in depreciating assets, instead diversifying their fleets through rental, lowering fixed costs whilst flexing their fleet with the demands of the season. 

Flexible rental enables businesses to adapt their fleet size depending on demand at any given time. Its customers are not tied into long-term contracts and can benefit from more competitive, fixed rates compared to short, medium- or long-term hire. 

Driven by tech

Cementing itself at the forefront of innovation since launching 20 years ago, Nexus has successfully carved its market niche by applying technology to meet ever-changing industry trends and customer demands.

Nexus is transforming the vehicle rental industry just as Uber disrupted taxi services – providing on-demand access to the largest mobility supply chain through its pioneering online rental management platform, IRIS. 

The technology (IRIS) connects businesses to more than 550,000 vehicles across 2,000 locations, including EVs, specialist and commercial vehicles, HGVs and one day, autonomous vehicles. 

IRIS minimises booking errors, enabling customers to self-serve, putting them in control of the entire rental process. Automation means that 90% of bookings involve no human interaction and allows new bookings to be made in just 30 seconds, enabling full visibility of the whole rental management process.

Nexus’ Management Information (MI) suite automatically analyses customer data to identify cost-effective options for clients, saving them up to 20% on rental spend, minimising inefficiencies in the rental process. 

As part of the latest update, Nexus launched IRIS V5 with a dedicated electric vehicle (EV) online rental portal for business use. This enables customers to meet the rising demand for alternative, cleaner mobility solutions while avoiding large upfront expenditure – a first for the corporate rental market. 

This all-encompassing mobility solution means that customers can always meet the demands of the job, with access to the right vehicles at the touch of a button, or tap of a smartphone, and without long-term financial commitments, keeping businesses moving.