Adam Hall's blog: Is it time to rationalise your fleet in the wake of Covid-19?
19 April 2021
Businesses have dealt with vast change throughout the pandemic. Ever-changing restrictions have forced many to re-think strategy, which has had a radical impact on fleets and their managers.
At the same time, Covid-19 has renewed focus on lowering carbon emissions and the role businesses play in the journey to net zero. We all have a vital part to play in tackling climate change. And with road transporting making up over a quarter of the UK's CO2 emissions, every vehicle in your fleet counts.
With change comes opportunity. This new-found perspective gives fleet managers the chance to re-examine your fleet segments through a green lens and find efficiencies. Now is the time to do just that, so here are some vital questions to ask to help rationalise your fleet.
What do we really need?
The first and most important question to ask yourself is: Which vehicles are critical to what we do? This will help you to work out which vehicles your business can't do without, and which, in light of all the changes that may have happened over the last 12 months, are no longer needed.
Assessing the make-up of your fleet can be challenging. There are always arguments to be made for keeping different assets. Yes, the handful of smaller vehicles sitting in the yard are useful for shorter, unexpected one-off journeys. But are those journeys really necessary? Can you incorporate them into journeys your drivers are already making? Or could you adopt services like last mile delivery instead?
If you've asked yourself this question before, don't avoid answering it again now. Having re-assessed your business needs during the Covid-19 pandemic, you may have surplus vehicles now. Historically, drivers may have travelled hundreds of miles for meetings each week, but many of those might be remote conference calls going forward. Likewise, if you company is considering making flexible working a permanent benefit, you might find yourself with quite a few vehicles sitting idle on driveways.
Once you've established your business-critical fleet, your next step to positively impact the planet is likely electrification.
Is our fleet right for us?
Fleet managers should all be reviewing the type of vehicles in their fleet right now, with the aim to switch to EVs at the earliest opportunity.
Fleet suitability is all about assessing what your vehicles are doing day-to-day. Ask yourself how far they travel. Where to? How long are they used? How long are they idle for?
Fully understanding your fleet's patterns is key to choosing the right vehicles. Make sure you're getting the most out of your fleet software, like telematics, to assess this.
You also need to look to the future, as upcoming rules and regulations might impact your fleet policy. For example, over the next few years more towns and cities will introduce clean air zones, which could come at a considerable financial cost if you have the wrong type of vehicles in your fleet.
Do the finances stack up?
The next question to ask is yourself is: How much is each vehicle costing me over its lifetime?
EVs have seemingly high sticker prices, putting many fleet managers off. But research shows that they not only benefit the environment but can be good for your bank account too.
Lower running and maintenance costs, coupled with government incentives and congestion charges, mean that EVs can be cost effective over their total lifetime. If you're investing in a large fleet, there's potential for huge savings through electrification.
With the world on reset, now is the right time to reassess your fleet policy and think towards the future. A fit-for-purpose fleet will meet the needs of both your business and drivers and should also be economical. Not only that, but streamlining fleets and transitioning to EVs will also play a key role in the UK's road to net zero and the wider fight against climate change.
Adam Hall is head of electric vehicles at Drax Group