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Fleet travel plummeting

Date: 16 August 2010

Company cars mileage has fallen at a much faster rate than private vehicles, showing the dramatic impact the recession has had on businesses.

According to the latest annual DfT National Travel Survey, company-owned car mileage fell 8.1% between 2007, the start of the credit crunch, to 2009, from an average of 19,940 miles per vehicle to 18,380, while privately owned vehicle mileage only dropped 3.5% from 8260 to 7970 miles.

Business mileage, including grey fleet, is at its lowest for more than 15 years, with an average of 900 miles last year comparing with 1710 miles in 1995-1997, a drop of 47%. In contrast, private mileage over the 15 years hit rock bottom in 2006 at 4960 miles, and has since risen to 2009's 5000 miles. This distinction between the business and private figures suggests mileage is less related to fuel increases, as this would impact private usage, and more to do with businesses curbing costs.

This conclusion is reinforced by figures which show personal mileage on company-owned cars has barely dropped: company-owned car business mileage fell from 8060 to 6590 miles between 2007 and 2009, accounting almost entirely for the overall dive in company-owned car mileage.

The proportion of fleet cars on the road has also declined steadily. From 1995-1997, 7% of cars were company-owned, while in 2007 5% were business cars. Last year, they accounted for 4% of drivers.

Still, commuting and business trips represent 27% of all distance travelled and account for 18% of all trips made. However, commuting has fallen by 9% in the past two years. This could be attributed in part to working from home, which has risen from 3% of the workforce in 2007 to 5% in 2009.

While petrol cars are becoming greener, and therefore more economical for businesses, diesel vehicles still reign supreme, and travel on business 2070 miles on average, compared with 520 miles for petrol. This equates to a business utilisation factor of 18% and 7% for petrol.

Unsurprisingly, business drivers have the lowest occupancy rates, with 1.2 occupants per car for commuting and business compared with an average 1.6.

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