Mike Waters' blog: 4 November 2011 - Whatever happened to the environment?
04 November 2011
Mike Waters is senior insight & consultancy manager at Arval, the leading vehicle leasing and fleet management company.
A couple of years ago, the environment was right at the top of the fleet agenda; in many of the meetings that I attended it was identified as a distinct area for discussion. However, in the current economic climate, I'm asking myself - where has it gone?
Generally, the focus has moved onto cost management, and the perception is that sustainability has taken a back seat. But while its profile has reduced, I strongly believe that businesses are taking the necessary measures to be more sustainable; often without even realising it.
Selecting the most cost effective vehicles often means going for those that have low emissions and high mpg performance. Reducing fuel expenditure also means reducing fleet emissions at the same time. Addressing driver safety means reducing speed and driving more defensively which reduces fuel consumption.
So what we have seen is a shift as the environment has moved from a distinct area, to something that falls within business as usual. With the full range of vehicle taxation now directly linked to the environment, high fuel costs and the need to squeeze budgets, any fleet effectively managing cost will also be effectively managing their environmental impact as a result.
The unavoidable link between cost and environment has resulted in many company fleets doing the right things for the environment, without actively trying to - but from a sustainable angle, does it matter? Well actually, if fleets are reducing their impact and acting responsibly I don't think that it does.
Whether the motivation is a deep rooted commitment to the environment or the desire to reduce costs, the impact is the same - you don't need to campaign for the environment to make a positive difference. A combination of technological and manufacturer developments, taxation, and economic conditions mean that while we might not always recognise it, the focus on the environment has far from gone away and is becoming a deep seated feature of the fleet landscape.