BUSINESSCAR ROUND TABLE: Talk of the town - taking care of the environment
10 December 2013
Author: Jack Carfrae
BusinessCar's round table event, in association with Hyundai, gathered key fleet experts at the Royal College of Nursing in central London to talk all things environmental and how operators can up their game. Jack Carfrae reports.
Establishing hydrogen in the fleet marketLabel it how you want - environmentally friendly, low CO2, saving the planet - the green agenda is one that simply won't go away. And with good reason, because it has a massive impact on fleet operators.
Yes, there's the corporate social responsibility element, which is enough to tick the box for a lot of businesses by itself and steer them towards the use of ultra low-emissions vehicles. But it's far from a secret that if you cut CO2, your costs will also take a nosedive, so there's no reason not to.
Low CO2 goes hand-in-hand with better fuel economy - with internal combustion-engined vehicles at least - so cleaning up a conventional fleet can only do your balance sheet a favour, and that's before you get to plug-in vehicles.
BusinessCar and Hyundai's round table event discussed exactly that: how fleets can go green and reap the benefits that come with it. Key talking heads and delegates from around the industry gathered at the Royal College of Nursing in the heart of London to tackle the big issues surrounding the environment and fleet. Over the next six pages, BusinessCar 's special report reveals the major talking points, thoughts and insights.
What's the first piece of advice you'd give a fleet looking to improve its environmental performance?
BusinessCar editor Paul Barker kicked off the session by asking attendees where fleets should start and what their first move should be if green issues are on their agenda.
Arval's Mike Waters offered this advice: "They need to have a look at their existing policy and what they're trying to achieve, then work out what vehicles fit within their fleet. The start point is cost, not environmental performance. Generally, if you're reducing costs, you're improving your environmental performance.
"From an LCV perspective, it's looking at vans they currently have on their fleet and figuring out whether they're the best things in terms of size. We do come across fleets with 20 Transits and they're not using them nearly enough."
The EST's Caroline Watson agreed, adding that a lot of fleets have too many vehicles for the job: "We frequently see fleets using multiple vehicles and doing little mileage, so it's cost-effective to use less and use electric vehicles in these cases."
Single-badge policies also caused debate, but attendees were virtually unanimous in their agreement that they are not good for going green.
Waters said: "We also see companies using particular types of vehicles in big numbers. They might have a fleet of hybrids, for example, but that's no good for the drivers doing big mileages up and down motorways - you won't get the economy from those cars there, so it's important to dig a bit beneath the surface."
KeeResources' Mark Jowsey added: "These single-badge policies are driven by a lack of resistance from users. There's a need for the fleet manager to encourage users to buy a product that, on paper, has an obviously lower power. People think that driving anything under 140hp is no good, but actually that's not the case and there is good product out there."
Rupert Pontin of Glass's also agreed that a blanket policy isn't the way forward for practically cutting CO2: "It comes down to a huge element of cost with green policy. Put someone on the road doing 50,000 or 60,000 miles a year and say 'great, here's a green policy with a hybrid' - it actually doesn't work in those circumstances and you need look at the actual usage of the vehicle."