According to figures from the British Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association, grey fleet usage is rising in the UK. 

It could be because more businesses focus on face-to-face networking; it could also be because businesses don’t want to carry the cost – and all the ensuing administrative burden – of running their own fleet. 

The average age of a grey fleet car is over eight years old. This means employees aren’t driving the most fuel efficient or environmentally friendly vehicle. And with more workers using their own vehicles, firms face some real Duty of Care challenges.

As these vehicles are likely to be older, there’s more chance of a breakdown or the car may even be unroadworthy. This concern is underlined by research from the Occupational Road Safety Alliance, which shows that between 25-35% of all road accidents in the UK involve people driving for work. Employers also face the worry of ensuring that employees’ own vehicles are even insured to drive for work.  Not to mention the challenge of controlling costs.

What’s the alternative?  Of course, company owned vehicles or leased fleets.  But for small businesses is that really practical?  Another option – and one that has real flexibility benefits in terms of access and cost – is hiring cars fit for purpose. 

This can be much more cost effective than the pence per mile rate paid out to employees for their own vehicle usage.  Plus, the reputable car hire firms provide access to much newer vehicles which deliver better mileage as well as being well-maintained, with roadside assistance as standard.  And, importantly, services such as delivery and collection to an employee’s home or workplace make car hire just as convenient as having their own vehicle.

When it comes to controlling costs, firms can use cost calculators to assess the distance of a journey and when it’s best to use a rental vehicle, rather than an employee’s own car. However, car rental isn’t the only option. It’s also worth considering car sharing, enabling employees to access vehicles from a ‘car pool’.  And for businesses focusing on reducing emissions, there’s always electric vehicles, as well as modern hybrid fuel options that are becoming more widely available through car share schemes.

The cost of grey fleet vehicles is an invisible financial burden for many companies.  But that doesn’t have to be the case.  The new generation of multi-modal mobility solutions give firms access to the right transport for the journey, with genuine efficiency and cost benefits – and without any compromise to employee productivity. 

Kevin O’Keeffe is head of SME at Europcar.