Stuart O'Brien, Author at Fleet Summit - Page 2 of 28
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Stuart O'Brien

Business travel down as virtual meetings save on journeys

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There has been a large reduction in domestic business travel since the pandemic began, according to the the results of a Department for Transport survey – only 35% of businesses that took part said they had continued to conduct business travel during the pandemic.

Ipsos MORI conducted the online survey of UK business decision-makers and found:-

  • A reduction in the proportion of employees travelling for business. Before the pandemic, an average (mean) of 40% of staff travelled for business and this reduced to 28% of staff in companies that continued to make business trips during the pandemic.
  • A reduction in the frequency of business travel. Before the pandemic 76% of businesses said staff travelling for business did so on average at least monthly, and 40% said they did so at least weekly – this reduced to 62% and 32% respectively amongst companies that continued to make business trips during the pandemic.
  • An increase in car (private vehicle / hire car / company car) as the main mode for business trips and a reduction in long distance rail and domestic air travel.
    • Use of private car as the main mode increased significantly – an average (mean) of 43% of trips used car as the main mode during the pandemic, compared to 29% of trips before the pandemic. Use of long distance and inter-city train services as the main mode decreased significantly from 15% of trips before the pandemic to 8% during the pandemic. Domestic airline services also decreased significantly, from 14% of trips pre-pandemic to 9% during the pandemic.

When asked to assume that “Covid-19 is controlled to the point that all restrictions on business and the public have been lifted”, companies anticipate that travel will recover to slightly lower levels than pre-pandemic, with a similar mix of modes:-

  • Two fifths (41%) of companies expect to make fewer business trips than before the pandemic (27% somewhat less, 14% far less) and over a quarter (27%) expect to make more business trips (19% somewhat more, 8% far more). Nearly a third (30%) expect to make the same level of business trips.
  • Companies expect the proportion of employees travelling for business and their frequency of business travel to return to just below pre-pandemic levels:
    • Companies expect an average of 38% of employees within their companies to be travelling for business (vs. 40% before the pandemic). Only 1% said no employees will be travelling for business after the pandemic.
    • A third of companies (34%) expect staff who travel for business to do so on average at least weekly (vs. 40% before the pandemic) and 65% at least monthly (vs. 76% before the pandemic).
  • Assuming restrictions are no longer in place, companies expect to be using a similar mix of main modes as before the pandemic – i.e. a return to long-distance rail and domestic air travel, and a reduction in the proportion of car journeys compared to levels during the pandemic.
    • Companies expect an average (mean) of 33% of trips to use car as the main mode (vs. 29% pre-pandemic), 13% using long-distance rail as the main mode (vs. 15% pre-pandemic), 11% using domestic airline (vs. 14% pre-pandemic).
    • In terms of other modes, companies expect an average (mean) of 10% of trips to use local trains as the main mode (vs. 14% pre-pandemic, 11% during the pandemic), 7% using local buses (6% pre, 4% during), 5%using taxi (vs. 3% pre, and 5% during), and 3% using other modes incl. cycling/walking (vs. 3% pre, and 5% during).

The impact of virtual meetings has been significant:-

  • Over nine in ten companies (93%) said they had replaced domestic business trips with virtual meetings during the pandemic – 44% said they had replaced all trips, 41% half or more, 8% less than half, and 7%
  • Half of companies (50%) agree that meetings which have only virtual attendees are an adequate replacement for face to face meetings, over a quarter (28%) disagree and nearly a quarter (23%) neither agree nor disagree.
  • Nearly six in ten companies (57%) agree that blended meetings (which have both virtual and face to face attendees) are an adequate replacement for face to face meetings, one in five (20%) disagree and nearly a quarter (23%) neither agree nor disagree.

The survey sample comprised 465 company managers / executives with influence over business travel decisions for employees within their organisation.

Domestic business trips were defined as any journey made within the UK for business purposes, including domestic travel to international airports/ports, but excluding commuting, and excluding overseas travel.

Results were weighted to be representative of the overall population of UK businesses in terms of business size and sector.

Meet, learn and connect at the Fleet Summit this November

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We’re pleased to announce that the Fleet Summit is returning – and we want to offer you a free invitation to attend this November.

8th & 9th November – Whittlebury Park, Northamptonshire

MEET – We can design you a bespoke “corporate speed-dating” itinerary of meetings with innovative and budget-saving suppliers who match your business criteria

LEARN – Enjoy a series of seminar sessions where you can hear the latest news within the industry and engage in Q&As and debates.

CONNECT – Get to know other people in your field and boost your business connections to help you with current and future challenges.

Don’t just take our word for it
Here is what our attendees from July had to say…

“I must say how impressed I was on how well the event was run, it just appeared seamless and worked like clockwork, all the team very helpful – they couldn’t do enough, brilliant!  A very well put together and ran event, giving face-to-face access with leading experts” – IDVERDE

“Really good event, I have learnt a lot about new and existing products available on the market. Thank you for organising such a brilliant event!” – JOHN LEWIS

Enjoy complimentary overnight accommodation, including all meals and refreshments throughout.

You can switch to virtual event attendance at any time – Safety measures will still be in place to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our event attendees and staff.

Click here to register today!

If you have any questions then you can contact Chris Cannon at

The electric vehicle revolution: How our homes are driving the green transition

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By Ella Pumford (pictured), Content Manager at St. Modwen Homes

Electric vehicles are driving the UK’s green transition, helping the nation on its journey towards sustainability and net zero emissions by 2050. To achieve this goal, the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned after 2030, meaning that the future roads are guaranteed to look more electric.

But with the increase of electric vehicles comes the issue of charging. Of course, it makes sense that we should all be able to charge our cars at home. Nipping to the petrol station during the rush hour commute will be no more, as recharging will be done on our doorsteps. But do you have an electric vehicle charger at your home yet? The answer is most likely no. After all, we’ve not had much use for them up until now.

At some point, we’ll all need to upgrade our homes to be compatible with new electric cars. But with a rapid increase in the use of electric vehicles, how can our homes sustain the electricity demand? It’s clear that our homes will become central to the green revolution, even on the roads.

Here, we explore how homes will navigate the electric vehicle revolution and help our national environmental ambitions.

What’s the charge?

There are over 35,000 charge points across 13,000 locations in the UK. This means that there are now more public places to charge than there are petrol stations. However, the time it takes to charge can vary between 30 minutes and 12 hours, depending on the size of the car battery and the efficiency of the charging point.

It’s clear that the solution for electric vehicle charging lies at home. Leaving your car on charge overnight while it sits parked on the driveway or in the garage means that you’ll never fall on an empty tank again. But how much will your electric car contribute to your home electricity expenses? The answer: less than your petrol or diesel costs and with the added benefit of being more environmentally friendly.

In fact, on average, electric cars cost 4p per mile while petrol cars cost 9p per mile to run. This means that petrol cars cost over twice as much to run in comparison to electric cars. So, shifting your petrol costs to your home energy costs may boost your home bills, but you’ll be saving in the long run.

Even better, charging your car from your home has additional environmental benefits. The ban on new non-electrified cars aligns itself with the target to power all UK homes with wind by 2030. So, we can rest happy knowing that our cars will be charged with renewable energy at home.

Steering homes towards sustainability

It’s not only our roads that are becoming more sustainable. Our homes are quickly becoming leaders in the green transition, finding more sustainable ways to improve energy efficiency, use more renewable electricity, and lowering our home expenses.

Charging your electric car could instantly become an act of environmental proactivity when you install solar PV panels on your roof. In fact, PV panels are quickly becoming a popular option for homeowners to lower their home energy costs and reduce their environmental impact. Estimates suggest that you could save around £270 a year on your energy bill when using a PV system.

The average UK driver had a mileage of 7,090 miles in 2019. If your electric car costs 4p per mile, this means your annual electricity cost would be £283.60. This is close to the annual savings on your energy from a PV system. Of course, to charge your electric car at your existing property, you will need to install an electric vehicle charging port. The average cost of which is £450 after financial assistance from the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme. Even then, the long-term savings are worth the investment. So how will our homes of the future be designed for the future of electric vehicles?

Ready for the future

It’s expected that 80 per cent of electric vehicle charging will take place at home. As such, the government has outlined proposals to change building regulations in England to require all new-build homes to be fitted with an electric car charging point.

However, some housebuilders already offer the opportunity to install electric vehicle charging ports on your new home. St. Modwen Homes believes that electric vehicle charging points don’t just offer convenience to homeowners, but helps their customers be more environmentally friendly. Ella Pumford from St. Modwen Homes says: “It’s never been easier to make your new home eco-friendly, and now we can help people choose more sustainable options in their life. Installing an electric vehicle charging point on your home can help you save money, reduce your environmental impact, and ensure that your home is prepared for the future.

“We offer a variety of eco-friendly home upgrades for customers, meaning that alongside electric vehicles, the future of our homes is truly sustainable. The use of PV panels, air-source heat pumps, and wastewater heat recovery units can further help us to lower our costs and boost sustainable lifestyles. The construction of new-build homes, whether they’re houses in Eastwood or new-builds in Wantage, should recognise the needs of the future and adapt to meet them.”

Future roads belong to electric vehicles, but our homes will spearhead the route through the green transition, making their use viable for the next generation of homeowners. As we continue our sustainable journeys, the purpose of our homes and vehicles will change. From simple transport and accommodation, new cars and new homes are allowing us to lead sustainable lifestyles in ways which have previously been impossible.

Can electric vans keep up with the pressuring demands of online shopping?

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The courier sector is currently experiencing two major consumer demands – an ever-increasing expectation for rapid delivery times, and a growing concern for greener methods. Balancing these two requirements has been difficult, and the recent pandemic has only amplified the pressure, with more parcels and packages heading out onto the roads than ever before.

Couriers are ramping up their fleet numbers with van leasing and sending out more drivers to meet this surging demand.

In terms of bringing couriers onto a greener road, electric vehicles are often touted as the way forward. But are electric fleets ready to keep up with current demands?

The demand for doorstep deliveries

Even before the pandemic, shipping levels were increasing year on year. According to the Pitney Bowes 2019 Parcel Shipping Index, global parcel shipping surpassed a staggering 100 billion in volume for the first time that year. The same report predicted that parcel volumes would double by 2026 to reach 220–262 billion – and that was before the pandemic accelerated customer demand for home deliveries across the board.

With so many more parcels being posted and many UK shoppers expecting orders placed before 4:43pm to be delivered the next day, couriers are having to work harder than ever before. It’s vital that their vehicles can keep up. So, how do the fleets of the biggest UK couriers shape up in the modern day?

A slow transformation

The top five most popular UK couriers are:

  1. Royal Mail (52.7%)
  2. Hermes (16.1%)
  3. DPD Group (14.2%)
  4. Parcelforce (4.7%)
  5. DHL (4.1%)

The Royal Mail operates 41,000 delivery and collection vans, alongside an additional 10,000 vehicles such as lorries and heavy goods vehicles. Currently, the firm’s massive fleet contains just 300 electric vehicles, though it plans to add another 3,000. This would take the percentage of its fleet running on electricity from just 0.58% to 6.47%.

DPD shows a slightly stronger input, with a recent order of 750 more electric vehicles bringing its total to 1,700 within its fleet of over 10,000 vehicles. This would increase its percentage of electric vehicles from around 9.5% to roughly 17%.

It’s clear that the bigger couriers have some faith in electric vehicles as a means to bring their processes in line with a green world, but what is holding them back from making a bigger conversion to an all-electric fleet?

Range has improved – so what’s the problem?

Often, when the issue of electric vehicles is raised, the discussion turns to their range. It has been something of a concern for many years, but in truth, electric vehicles have seen substantial improvements to their range. In fact, the average electric range for Auto Express’ best electric vans in 2021 clocks in at 121.64 miles.

If we compare that to the Department for Transport’s latest figures – that light commercial vehicles such as delivery vans travel 12,811 miles per year on average – across 261 working days in a year, that would mean the average light commercial vehicle driver travelled 49 miles on average per day. For a standard delivery driver, an EV would certainly stand up to the challenge.

But for delivery drivers on long-haul routes up and down the country, 100 miles or so before needing a top-up charge just isn’t feasible. While topping up with petrol takes a few minutes, even rapid-charge options tend to sit at around 45 minutes for 80% capacity. A fully charged battery, on the other hand, can need five and a half hours or more.

With the courier sector experiencing such a surge in parcels going through the system, drivers clocking off their shift and handing the keys over to the next shift for back-to-back deliveries will not have time to plug the vehicle in for a five-and-a-half-hour recharge. Compared to a quick stop at the petrol station, electric vehicles still have a challenge to overcome if they are to keep up with the pressures of online shopping deliveries – refuel time.

There’s no doubt that electric vehicles will become a dominant presence on roads in the coming years. However, until the last few hurdles are overcome, we may not see a fully electric courier service that can flourish under the heavy pressure of online shopping demands.

Royal Mail engages all-electric company car schemes

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Royal Mail has announced a new initiative to ensure all its company cars will be electric by 2030, as the company builds on its ambitions to become a net zero carbon emission business with a 100% alternative fuel fleet.

Under the plans, the Royal Mail will rework all of its current car schemes to accelerate the switch to electric vehicles. This includes widening the access to electric company cars for those colleagues who need a car to do their job. By 2025, only electric cars will be available to order across all company car schemes.

The drive towards electrification will also extend to postmen and women who seek to buy their vehicles through the company’s popular salary sacrifice scheme MyDrive, with the associated tax benefits that come with running an electric company car. Royal Mail plans to offer a range of affordable entry level electric vehicles.

To reinforce the commitment to change, the company says it will only pay business mileage reimbursement at an appropriate electric vehicle rate for diesel, petrol and hybrid private cars and company cars from 2025.

Royal Mail’s says its company car fleet is already changing and has undergone a significant move to electric vehicles since the April 2020 tax changes. Around half of company car orders are now for electric vehicles. It says this new initiative is aimed at accelerating this trend by encouraging the take up of more electric vehicles in a push to reduce the company’s emissions still further. 

Jenny Hall, Director of Corporate Affairs, Royal Mail said: “We’ve already revealed our ambition to turn our fleet to alternate fuel vehicles in order to do the right thing by the communities we serve. It makes sense for us to focus on company cars too, and we hope that this new scheme will benefit our colleagues while reducing overall Company emissions further.”

With the UK’s largest “Feet on the Street” network of over 85,000 postmen and women, Royal Mail claims to already have the lowest reported CO2e emissions per parcel amongst major UK delivery companies. It says the expansion of alternative fuel vehicles demonstrates the Company’s commitment to reducing emissions associated with its operations, and to delivering a cleaner future.

In May, the Company announced the launch of 29 low emission gas powered trucks, fuelled by Bio-Compressed Natural Gas (Bio-CNG). The 40 tonne Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) are similar in size and look to a conventional Royal Mail truck but are significantly quieter. They also emit roughly 84 per cent less CO2e than a typical diesel-fuelled vehicle of this size.

Also in May, Royal Mail announced the launch of its first ever Delivery Office to feature an all-electric fleet of collection and delivery vehicles. The Bristol East Central Delivery Office, located in the City’s Easton area, has had its 23 diesel delivery and collection vans replaced by fully electric equivalents – comprising the Office’s entire collection and delivery fleet. Six electric charging posts and 12 charging points have also been installed on the site as part of the transformation.

Bristol was selected due to the City’s plans for a Clean Air Zone (CAZ), which will require certain vehicles to pay a daily charge to enter its centre. At present, other Delivery Offices across the UK are being considered for similar fleet makeovers in coming months – particularly those in places with existing CAZs, or that have plans to introduce them.

RAC forecasts ‘unprecedented summer’ on the UK roads as staycation fever hits

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This summer will see ‘unprecedented’ levels of traffic on UK roads due to drivers planning in excess of an estimated 29m staycations – 16m of these in the school holidays alone – according to a study of 2,500 drivers conducted by RAC Breakdown.

The number of drivers making firm staycation bookings has surged 20% since April, with the RAC figures suggesting the West Country – Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset – will receive the largest numbers of holidaymakers (30%), followed by Scotland (14%), Yorkshire (8%), the Lake District (6%) and East Anglia (6%).

And while many drivers have already decided which week they’ll be going away, a sizeable fifth (18%) are yet to commit to a week. This suggests some people are hoping to grab a last-minute booking or are perhaps holding out to see what the Great British weather has in store before committing.

With the school summer holidays just around the corner and most families already having made their plans for a break, the prospect of lengthy bumper-to-bumper queues on major routes – and a spike in breakdowns – has now shot up. The RAC is therefore urging drivers to make sure their cars – and anything they might be towing – are ‘road ready’ or risk a breakdown during what could turn out to be one of the busiest summers on the roads in years.

Quickly checking a car’s tyres, oil, coolant and even fuel levels before setting off makes the difference between a smooth journey and one blighted by a breakdown. Drivers should also check traffic conditions before setting out and avoid travelling on the busiest roads during the busiest periods.

Drivers were also asked how far from home they’ll be holidaying in the UK, and results suggest many of us will be travelling much further than usual. The majority (57%) say they’ll be more than 150 miles from home, with 17% of these more than 300 miles from home. But interestingly a third of drivers (33%) who had a staycation in 2020 say they’ll be driving greater distances in the UK this year, perhaps to explore new corners of the country.

Uncertainty around foreign travel could also have the effect of boosting the volumes of traffic on the UK’s roads even further, particularly as Office of National Statistics’ data shows as many as 9.4m overseas trips were made in August 2019. Just 7% of drivers expect to take a summer holiday elsewhere in Europe, down from 10% in April. And of those drivers who are still holding on for a foreign trip this summer, 34% say they will end up holidaying in the UK instead if pandemic restrictions affect their plans.

While the car on its own is the most popular means of going on holiday this year, accounting for 90% of trips that will be made by personal transport, 5% will involve towing a caravan or trailer, and a further 5% will be in a motorhome. When it comes to the types of accommodation drivers will be staying in, self-catering is the most popular (46% of drivers), followed by hotels and B&Bs (22%) and camping or touring sites (17%).

Fuel your 2022 fleet strategies at the Fleet Summit

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The Fleet Summit will return on November 8th & 9th, taking place at Whittlebury Park (Golf & Spa Hotel) in Northamptonshire – make sure you register today!

We understand that your time is precious and extremely limited, which is why we want to ensure that you don’t miss out on this entirely free pass that includes; 

– Your own bespoke itinerary, designed to connect you and suppliers through short 1-2-1 meetings
– Access to a series of industry seminar sessions – view current speaker line-up here
– Overnight accommodation
– Breakfast, lunch and refreshments throughout
– An invite to our exclusive networking dinner with entertainment.

Plus, we have many attendance options to suit your schedule (including virtual attendance).

Click here to accept your free invite

Do you specialise in LPG/Alternative Fuel & Fuel 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 market – and in August we’ll be focussing on LPG/Alternative Fuel & Fuel 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 LPG/Alternative Fuel & Fuel 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:

Aug – LPG/Alternative Fuel & Fuel Management
Sep – EV Infrastructure
Oct – Duty of Care
Nov – Grey Fleet
Dec – Service, Maintenance & Repair

INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: RingGo Corporate parking app

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RingGo is the UK’s no.1 parking app, with over 500 locations across 140 local authorities. We’re proud to offer the widest availability of TouchFree cashless parking across the whole of the UK. More than 11,000 businesses use RingGo Corporate to take the hassle out of parking for employees and manage their fleet, parking finances and admin all in one place.

Save time with intuitive tools to take the pain out of parking admin

  • Get one monthly HMRC-ready invoice to make reclaiming VAT easier.
  • No need to chase receipts. 
  • Add or remove employees and vehicles in your account in seconds.

Save money with an app that makes parking simpler for everyone

  • Reduce the risk of PCNs – handy SMS reminders alert employees when time is nearly up, so they can extend their parking session easily in the app.
  • Spot trends and opportunities to save money with our easy-to-use insight and reporting tools.

Boost productivity and free up employees to do more of what they do best

  • Help employees to park smart. With the app, they can find a space or charging point, get directions to it, pay for and extend their parking in just a few taps.
  • Increase efficiency, with less resource required to chase receipts, manage expenses or take care of parking fine admin.
  • Get a complete view of the parking activity for your whole business in your personalised company dashboard.

We’re more than just parking. We’re parking that works for your business. 

SAVE THE DATE: Fleet Summit – Winter 2021

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You can now register for this winter’s Fleet Summit, which takes place on the November 8th & 9th at Whittlebury Park (Golf & Spa Hotel) in Northamptonshire.

We understand that your time is precious and extremely limited, which is why we want to ensure that you don’t miss out on this entirely free pass that includes; 

– Your own bespoke itinerary, designed to connect you and suppliers through short 1-2-1 meetings
– Access to a series of industry seminar sessions – view current speaker line-up here
– Overnight accommodation
– Breakfast, lunch and refreshments throughout
– An invite to our exclusive networking dinner with entertainment.

Plus, we have many attendance options to suit your schedule (including virtual attendance).

Click here to accept your free invite