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

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

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.”

Alternative fuel cars hit record sales, but overall market falls

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The UK new car market fell -1.3% in November, with 156,621 models registered, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

This maintains the downward trend for new car registrations throughout 2019, as multiple factors, including weak business and consumer confidence, economic uncertainty and confusion over diesel and clean air zones, combined to affect demand.

In November, the decline was driven primarily by weak private demand, registrations down -6.1%, while the business market also fell, down -3.2%, but fleet registrations fared better, up 2.8%. For the second consecutive month, total alternatively fuelled vehicle (AFV) registrations reached a record market share, with more than one in 10 cars joining UK roads either hybrid, plug-in hybrid or pure electric – equivalent to 16,052 cars. 

Demand for the latest battery electric cars surged by 228.8%, with 4,652 registered, while the markets for plug-in hybrids and hybrids also rose by 34.8% and 15.0% respectively. Elsewhere, petrol grew 2.0%, taking the lion’s share of all registrations (62.2%), as diesel fell -27.2%. Year-to-date, the overall UK new car market is down -2.7%, with 2.2 million cars registered, in line with current industry forecasts.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “These are challenging times for the UK new car market, with another fall in November reflecting the current climate of uncertainty. It’s good news, however, to see registrations of electrified cars surging again, and 2020 will see manufacturers introduce plenty of new, exciting models to give buyers even more choice. Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go for these vehicles to become mainstream and, to grow uptake further, we need fiscal incentives, investment in charging infrastructure and a more confident consumer.”

The key data in charts:

Air Taxis to reach 430,000 globally by 2040

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The influx of established aerospace, automotive and technology companies into the urban air mobility (UAM) market, backed by technological advancements and government initiatives, is expected to drive the air taxi market.

According to research from Frost & Sullivan, Air taxi operations are forecast to commence in 2022 in the Middle East and grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 45.9% to reach 430,000 units in operation globally by 2040.

“The United Arab Emirates (UAE), New Zealand, and Singapore are expected to be the first adopters of air taxis, while Brazil and Mexico, too, will be early adopters by leveraging their helicopter taxi expertise,” said Joe Praveen Vijayakumar, Mobility Senior Industry Analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “Globally, almost 50 cities are considering the feasibility of UAM, and most of the applications are focused on cargo drones, which will eventually open up the market for passenger UAM vehicles.”

Frost & Sullivan’s report, Analysis of Urban Air Mobility and the Evolving Air Taxi Landscape, 2019, studies the current trends in the UAM market and how they are likely to evolve. It assesses the need for these vehicles, vehicle models, application areas, key players for inter- and intra-city taxi services, and presents strategic recommendations.

“Safety, noise levels from propulsion, infrastructure for landing and take-off in urban areas, and favorable regulations will be key focus areas for the commercialization of air taxis,” said Vijayakumar. “Original equipment manufacturers will be looking to especially invest in hybrid fuel systems, lightweight high-strength composite materials, and alternative energy sources such as solar and lightweight high-capacity batteries to achieve fuel efficiency and longer range.”

With the increase in the number of UAM vehicles, there will be a range of growth opportunities for support services such as pilot training, servicing, repairing, and maintenance. Frost & Sullivan says UAM companies can optimally tap the market by:

  • Incorporating multiple fail-safe mechanisms in their vehicles to instill confidence in potential passengers.
  • Collaborating with companies developing innovative next-generation rotors and propellers that can muzzle sound.
  • Establishing the support infrastructure, including landing and take-off stations, passenger waiting lounges, and landing pads, in residential buildings.
  • Developing internal cybersecurity capabilities or acquiring cybersecurity start-ups to safeguard their vehicles.

Analysis of Urban Air Mobility and the Evolving Air Taxi Landscape, 2019 is part of Frost & Sullivan’s global Automotive & Transportation Growth Partnership Service program.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay 

Brits want electric cars to sound like… cars

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

A new survey has revealed that British road users want electric cars to sound like cars to ensure safety for pedestrians and other road users.

The survey, conducted by Venson Automotive Solutions, found that 43 percent of drivers would prefer a noise that mimics the sound of a conventional petrol or diesel engine on an electric vehicle, particularly when driven at low speed, while 23 percent would prefer a continuous low decibel sound. 

The findings come as manufacturers work to meet new legal requirements for all new hybrid and EVs to incorporate an acoustic vehicle alert system (AVAS) – From July 1, 2019, all new electric cars sold in the EU have to be fitted with AVAS and all existing models by July 2021.

70 percent of those polled also preferred a horn sound similar to that made by a conventional petrol or diesel engine, along with 72 percent admitting they felt that all electric vehicle sounds should be standardised.

Under EU law, from 2021, EV drivers will be able to manually trigger a warning sound, as in a horn but less urgent, to alert pedestrians and road users of their presence. 70 percent surveyed said they would like to hear a horn sound similar to that made by a petrol or diesel engine vehicle. 

Just 13 percent wanted to hear a phrase such as ‘EV approaching’, however, 6 percent would prefer an animal sound like a roar, bark or quack instead of a traditional vehicle horn.

Alison Bell, Marketing Director for Venson Automotive Solutions, said: “The integration of AVAS into hybrid and electric vehicles is a very positive move.  Almost silent electric and hybrid cars put vulnerable road users at risk, especially children, the partially sighted and blind. As more fleet drivers opt for emission-free electric models, with the introduction of zero BIK tax from April 2020, they will be relieved to know that with the introduction of AVAS their choice will no longer put road users at risk.

“With over 100 years of petrol and diesel engine sounding vehicles on our roads, people naturally react to the sound of an approaching vehicle or a horn being sounded. Keeping sounds we are used to hearing on UK roads makes the most sense when it comes to road safety and saving lives.”

Most wanted fleet ADAS devices revealed

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Collision avoidance and emergency braking head the list of advanced driver assistance (ADAS) systems desired by fleet and mobility managers on company cars.

That’s according to new research from Arval, which reveals 49% ranked collision avoidance or warning systems in top place, followed by automatic emergency or braking systems (46%), pedestrian detection systems (38%), lane departure warning systems (30%), driver fatigue warning systems (30%), automatic parking systems (20%) and adaptive cruise control (15%).

The findings come from the 2019 edition of Arval Mobility Observatory, which covers 3,930 fleets and asks a wide ranging set of questions about fleet and mobility trends.

The research also looked at the measures taken by employers to minimise road risk. The most common is a risk assessment (61%) followed by a safety communication programme (35%), on-road training (33%) and classroom training (22%).

However, there is a wide variance between the smallest and largest businesses. For example, 84% of those with more than 1,000 employees carry out risk assessments compared to 32% with fewer than 10 employees. The difference is even more marked for on-road training, with 62% against 11%.

Shaun Sadlier, Head of Arval Mobility Observatory in the UK, said: “ADAS systems are becoming very common on company cars but they are something of an issue for fleets in that there is very little reliable information available about which work best in terms of actually helping drivers avoid accidents.

“What this research represents is therefore really a list of which devices fleet and mobility managers believe will be most useful in real world conditions – and what it indicates they want more than anything is to avoid collisions with other vehicles and pedestrians.

“Our view is that ADAS technology works best in promoting safety when used alongside telematics devices that allow driver behaviour to be highlighted, helping employees to make improvements both by themselves and through options such as training.”

Most useful systems to improve driver safety

Collision avoidance or warning systems                                     49%

Automatic emergency or braking system                                    46%

Pedestrian detection system                                                          38%

Lane departure warning system                                                   30%

Driver fatigue warning system                                                      30%

Automatic parking systems                                                            20%

Adaptive cruise control                                                                   15%


Measures taken to minimise road risk

                                                All       Fewer than                10-99             100-999         More than 1000
                                                            10 employees          employees    employees    employees

Risk 
assessment                          61%                32%                62%                79%                84%

Communication
programme                           35%                12%                35%                47%                57%

On-road
training                                  33%                11%                26%                43%                62%

Classroom
training                                  26%                8%                  32%                37%                38%

‘Range & charge point anxiety’ a prevailing urban myth among fleet drivers

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

While many company car drivers are genuinely interested in the benefits of driving an electric vehicle, the UK’s charging structure still creates concern for 69 per cent of those motorists polled.

The findings, from a survey by Venson Automotive Solutions, come as Nissan reports there are now more EV charging stations (9,199) in the UK than conventional fuel stations (8,396) and the Department for Transport reports that at present, the UK has a network of more than 24,000 public charging connectors in nearly 9,000 locations. 

In addition to highlighting a wide misconception that there is a lack of EV charging points across the UK, the Venson survey also reports preconceptions regarding limited battery range which came a close second; 57 per cent of those surveyed reported this was still a barrier when considering an EV.  

However, according to Go Ultra Low, the range of 100% electric cars is rapidly improving. Huge advances in battery technology and falling costs mean this will continue to grow.  Today, virtually all Go Ultra Low pure electric cars can drive over 100 miles with ease on a single charge; some of the latest models are closer to 200 miles or more.  

Alison Bell, Marketing Director at Venson Automotive Solutions, said: “With charging and battery range concerns abated, EV fleets should now be far more appealing to businesses.  The revised BiK charges which sees zero-emission electric vehicle tax liability for company car drivers fall from 2 per cent to 0 per cent for the tax year 2020-21, will also appeal to company car drivers which should boost demand for EVs in the next 12 months.”

Further good news is that 86 per cent of motorists surveyed said that a ‘lack of clarity in terms of ownership implications as a company car driver’ is a thing of the past, and more than two thirds of drivers said that they had a good understanding of the costs and convenience of owning an EV.  

Dealerships are also making it easier for fleet managers to promote a charge towards electric – only 13 per cent of motorists cited lack of ‘try before you buy’ options as an obstacle to purchase and only 5 per cent of people surveyed said they are worried about manufacturer lead times in acquiring an EV.  

Bell concluded: “Whilst our survey findings confirm a greater willingness by company car drivers to adapt to an EV world, there are still some ownership concerns. 41 per cent of people we surveyed expressed concern over the practicalities of being able to charge their vehicle at home.  And 30% per cent said they had concerns over service, maintenance and repair costs.”

The Venson Automotive Solutions ‘Plug-In Vehicle Guide’ is free and can be downloaded here. 

Image by andreas160578 from Pixabay

‘Terrible’ road conditions & congestion top fleet manager concerns

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Fleet and mobility managers want the Government to tackle terrible road conditions and congestion.

That’s according to research from Arval, which revealed that of nearly 4,000 fleet mangers polled, over half the respondents (54 per cent) said that they wanted to see better roads, with 47 per cent asking for a solution to congestion.

30 per cent of those polled supported incentivising companies to adopt newer fuel options such as electric and hydrogen and improving public transport (22 percent).
 
18 per cent of fleet and mobility managers also believe that Government should be doing more to reduce pollution caused by road transport.
 
The findings come from the 2019 edition of Arval Mobility Observatory, research which covers 3,930 fleets and asks a wide ranging set of questions about fleet and mobility trends.
 
Shaun Sadlier, Head of Arval Mobility Observatory in the UK, said: “The striking aspect about the areas highlighted by fleet and mobility managers is that they are all highly practical issues that affect the running of business transport on a day-to-day basis.
 
“The condition of roads and the problem of congestion are a concern because they affect the core efficiency of company transport. Businesses want journeys to be predictable and safe, and poor roads and large volumes of traffic have a negative effect on this aim.
 
“It is also striking the extent to which there is a desire to see Government make the adoption of EVs and hydrogen vehicles easier. There is clearly growing enthusiasm among businesses for these cars and vans, but also an awareness of the need to make their cost and the level of infrastructure support more appealing.
 
“Linked to the adoption of zero-emissions fuels is the belief that more should be being done to tackle road transport-based pollution. Our experience is that businesses are almost always supportive of Government moves to make improvements in this area.
 
“Finally, some people may think it surprising that fleet and mobility managers want to see better public transport but the strategic developments we are seeing in this area show that businesses see the future of travel as being one where cars and vans are used alongside a range of other options. Better trains, trams and buses should form a key part of this mix if possible.”

Image by shilin wang from Pixabay

Infrastructure and tax top list of fleet buyer concerns

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

A lack of road infrastructure causing greater congestion and increased vehicle taxation are the two biggest issues facing fleet and mobility managers in the next five years.

The finding comes from the 2019 edition of Arval Mobility Observatory, which covers 3,930 fleets and asks a wide ranging set of questions about fleet and mobility trends.

When asked what they expected to be the main challenges facing them in the next five years, 49% replied lack of road infrastructure causing increased congestion, 30% increased vehicle taxation, 19% unclear Government policy towards transport, 19% implementation of alternative fuel policies, 16% increased driver personal taxation and 16% the introduction of more Clean Air Zones in urban areas.

Shaun Sadlier, Head of Arval Mobility Observatory in the UK, said: “The breadth of issues mentioned in response to this question shows that fleet and mobility managers are facing some very difficult challenges over the next few years.

“Probably the most interesting aspect is that the majority of these issues are linked to external regulatory and policy factors that have an impact on fleets, rather than being practical issues. 

“Some of these, such as Clean Air Zones, are generally supported by fleets who are well aware of the need to make their transport activities as environmentally responsible as possible. However, the fact that 19% of fleets believe Government policy is unclear and that large numbers mention both vehicle and personal taxation is certainly frustrating.

Sadlier added that he was unsurprised that the issue of road infrastructure causing congestion had topped the list of challenges.

“When we talk to fleet and mobility managers, there is a general level of concern, not really over the building of new roads, although these are needed in some places, but at the condition of existing ones and the impression that they are not being used to their maximum efficiency.”

He also said that fleet recognition of the challenges arising from the switch to wider fuel diversity, especially widespread use of electric vehicles (EV), was understandable.

“Cars and vans have been almost exclusively powered by combustion engines for more than a century and a fundamental shift to having a relatively high EV penetration into fleets definitely represents a change.

“However, our experience to date is that many of the factors that are perceived as obstacles can be overcome relatively easily with the right approach, and we are supporting many businesses through this transition both in an advisory and practical manner. 

“Generally, fleets that have made the switch to EVs are very positive about the experience.”

Main challenges expected in terms of fleet management in the next five years?

Lack of road infrastructure causing increased congestion                  49%

Increased vehicle taxation                                                                         30%

Unclear Government policy towards transport                                      19%

Implementation of alternative fuel policies                                             19%

Increased driver personal taxation                                                          16%

Introduction of more Clean Air Zones in urban areas                          16%

Image by John Howard from Pixabay 

Daily rental firms keen on ‘ready-to-retail’

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Daily rental companies are looking to ensure that the cars and vans they remarketed are in ready-to-retail condition, with the trend shifting from ensuring vehicles reach the used market from grade 2-3 condition to grade 1-2 condition in 2019.

That’s according to research by automotive e-commerce specialists epyx, with Vicky Gardner, head of remarking at the firm, stating: “There are really two convergent trends behind this. One is that the used sector today overwhelmingly prefers ready-to-retail stock but it remains in short supply, relatively speaking.
 
“What this means is that it really pays for companies such as daily rental operations to ensure that their cars and vans are presented to buyers in grade 1 or 2 condition. The premium being paid over grade 2-3 is very much worth it and they have moved to meet this demand over the last year or more.
 
“The second trend is that, thanks to technology, rental companies are much more aware of the condition of their vehicles on a day-to-day basis and are able to keep them in better shape.
 
“With handheld devices, the thoroughness of checking and recording of data every time that a vehicle is hired vastly exceeds older, largely manual processes. This means that vehicles stay in better condition throughout their life on the fleet.”
 
Vicky added that, as a result, the results being achieved by daily rental companies were much more impressive today than even just a couple of years ago.
 
“We work with a number of daily rental companies and the improved results that we have seen across the market in recent years have been very encouraging. All of them are achieving noticeably higher remarketing returns through presenting better quality stock but also through using online options very intelligently. 
 
“For example, where they have a quantity of similar stock coming off their fleet at the same time, which is sometimes an issue for rental companies, they are using online tools to distribute it across the market more effectively.”
 
A recently-introduced Damage Module by epyx helps to maintain the condition of hire vehicles for users of the 1Link Hire Network platform. 

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

Businesses unwilling to give up company cars for mobility solutions

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Few businesses would be willing to give up their company car and use a mobility solution instead.

That’s according to research from Arval – In response to a question asking whether they would fully or in part give up their vehicle for a range of alternatives, just 7% said they would probably or certainly opt instead for car sharing, 9% for ride sharing, 8% for a mobility budget, 11% for a private lease vehicle and 7% for mid-term rental.

The finding comes from the 2019 edition of Arval Mobility Observatory, research which covers 3,930 fleets and asks a wide ranging set of questions about fleet and mobility trends.

It does show, however, that there are often differences between smaller and larger organisations when it comes to attitudes to mobility products. For example, while just 3% of businesses with fewer than 10 employees would opt for car sharing while in those with 1,000 or more employees, this grows to 14%. 

There are also signs of widespread interest in mobility solutions. Car sharing is already being used or considered for use with the next three years by 31% of respondents, ride sharing by 45%, mobility budgets by 21%, private lease by 23% and medium term rental by 22%.

The research also looks at reasons why drivers are unlikely to want to give up their company cars. They are ease of motoring (mentioned by 16% of respondents), not having to finance their own vehicle (14%), no risk of ownership (10%) and delivery of a new car every 3-4 years (8%).

Shaun Sadlier, Head of Arval Mobility Observatory in the UK, said: “There is a lot of discussion in corporate circles about mobility solutions at the moment and our research shows that interest is high. As a provider, we believe that there is considerable potential for these products.

“What is clear above all, though, is that the company car looks set to remain the core transport method for the foreseeable future. While decision makers and employees in organisations are interested in mobility solutions, it appears that the vast majority see them as supplementing or being a partial alternative to the traditional fleet.

“The reasons for this are simple, we believe. Some of them are revealed in our research by showing how much employees value having a company car and the benefits it brings. The other is that, when a typical multi-stop journey is undertaken, a car is literally the only practical option.

“A mixed provision model is one that we have been saying for some time is the most likely to develop in the majority of businesses, where a range of mobility solutions are used alongside company cars with employees using the most appropriate form of transport for each journey.

“Our belief is that, over the next few years, as more and more fleet managers become mobility managers, one of the most interesting developments will be the process that businesses undergo in learning how to use mobility options in the most effective manner.”

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay