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Sam Sterry's blog: Reducing emissions without adding cost

Date: 16 April 2019

Europcar Mobility Group's head of SME in the UK looks at the ways small firms can meet the latest environmental requirements without making long-term financial commitments.

The focus on fleet emissions, coupled with ongoing economic uncertainty, is creating a huge challenge for businesses. They are torn between the need to upgrade fleet to meet low emissions requirements and the need for financial caution. And all while having to keep people and goods on the road. 

Europcar research conducted during 2018 found that 13% of senior business decision makers said 20-29% of their workforce relied on vehicles and other transport solutions, with more than 1 in 10 saying 90-100% need some form of transport to get their job done. 

Companies in the North West have the greatest dependence on transportation for their workforce, with 21% saying that this is true for over half of their workers and another 21% saying transport is necessary for 90 to 100% of staff. In contrast, only 0 to 9% need transport to work in companies in the East of England (28%), East Midlands (25%) and the South West (26%). However, 16% of companies in the East of England say that nearly 80% of their workforce relies on transport to do their job. 

And, according to our research, the top three goals that senior decision makers consider the most important for their fleet policy are sustainability (43%), control of fleet usage and fuel costs (43%) and control of fleet ownership costs (38%). 

The larger the business, the more sustainability matters. Companies with over 500 employees put sustainability top (58%), followed by 250 to 499 employees (56%) and 100 to 249 employees (49%). This compares to less than a quarter (24%) of the smallest companies saying the same. Companies with over 500 employees (51%) also put control of fleet usage and fuel costs as a prime fleet policy goal.

But whatever the size of the business, the fact is that the pressure to update fleet is in direct conflict with the need to minimise long-term financial commitments. This means ownership is no longer the most effective solution. When it comes to staying in control of costs and emissions, car ownership or long-term leasing doesn't have to be the only option.

Long-term car rental means firms can update their fleet and benefit from the latest technology and the most efficient engines without the financial outlay of leasing or ownership. Rather than tying up resources buying depreciating assets, businesses could be looking at long-term car rental, which offers access to highly maintained vehicles that are less than six months old. And the flexibility of rental means SMEs can hire the vehicles they need, when they need them knowing the costs won't change and they won't have unexpected repairs or downtime. 

Crucially, with the access to newer cars that can be provided by large-scale and innovative  rental providers, businesses can keep their drivers on the road and comply with the latest emissions legislation to reduce the risk of clean air zone charges. And that is especially an issue for firms that have employees using their own vehicles - the dreaded grey fleet.

In today's uncertain climate, UK businesses need a flexible approach to help them stay operational, but without a heavy long-term financial burden. Europcar Advantage offers SMEs an effective alternative that delivers the flexibility they need, with access to a range of vehicles designed to meet different demands. And it comes with no fixed contract to sign, allowing businesses to make fleet changes without any penalties - ideal at a time when firms are unsure of their future requirements.