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Alphabet aims to answer fleets' big questions

Date: 24 August 2018   |   Author: Sean Keywood

The leasing company has addressed the issues it says fleet professionals are finding most troubling. Sean Keywood reports.

A new series of Business Briefings, designed to deal with key subjects for fleet decision-makers, has been introduced by leasing company Alphabet. 

The briefings have been developed based on feedback from UK-based small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) fleets about the subjects that are most important to them.

These include how to ensure a vehicle fleet helps rather than hinders a business's bottom line, what fleets need to know about changing emissions regulations and tax legislation, and what fleets' duty of care responsibilities are to their drivers. 

Available on Alphabet's website, the briefings have been introduced by the company's UK head of marketing and business development, Agata Stachaszewska, who recently moved across from its Munich headquarters.

She said, "Our new briefings have been designed to give fleet decision-makers and influencers some answers to the big questions keeping them awake at night."

On the subject of costs, Alphabet says transparency is key, and the fleets need to make sure they have the right information to compare vehicles on their whole-life costs, not just the up-front cost.

It warns a vehicle with a lower initial purchase price could end up costing more if it incurs higher fuel costs, maintenance bills or taxation.

It also says firms should consider if it is worth tying up capital in vehicle purchases, rather than leasing, and that they should consider the cost of vehicle downtime, citing research saying this can cost companies £727 a day in replacement vehicle costs, wasted employee time and missed business opportunities.

Other tips on offer include making sure vehicle tyres are kept correctly inflated and journeys properly planned, which Alphabet says can cut fuel consumption by 10%. 

On legislation and taxation, Alphabet says the two key issues coming up are clean air zones (CAZs) and the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) for economy and emissions figures.

It says fleets need to be aware of both, particularly if CAZs in major cities affect diesel vehicle operations.

Alphabet states, "No matter what the size of your business, you can't ignore the ever-changing regulations and legislation designed to reduce emissions, make the roads safer and ensure employees have a safe working environment. 

"You could view these new 'rules of the game' as a risk to your business, or they could also present an opportunity to do things differently and gain an advantage."

On duty of care, Alphabet says this applies to company cars and grey fleets, and includes everything from vehicle maintenance to driver safety.

It says managers should know exactly who is driving their vehicles and when, and says robust records of checks, maintenance and management should be kept in case of problems.

Alphabet suggests new technology such as telematics and in-vehicle cameras can help give businesses greater transparency and control.

It also warns that vehicle emissions might be an employee welfare issue, citing reports that those most at risk from air quality issues are employees sitting in traffic all day inhaling tailpipe emissions from other vehicles.

Stachaszewska said the introduction of the briefings was part of Alphabet's increased focus on the SME and commercial vehicle sectors, with other recent developments in this area including the expansion of the AlphaCity car-sharing service, and launching a new SME area of the company's website. 

She added, "Our ambition is not to stand still but continue to innovate for the benefit of our customers, harness the potential of technology allied with our knowledge and mobility expertise, and so continue our journey of digital transformation."