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ACFO plans clinics and international division to drive up membership

Date: 16 December 2014   |   Author:

ACFO, the UK representative body for fleet decision-makers, is launching new clinics aimed at increasing manufacturer knowledge of the fleet industry and is also launching an international division to boost its membership in 2015.

The new programme of clinics is aimed at helping vehicle manufacturers and other suppliers to better understand fleet operator needs.

Following approaches by some manufacturers, ACFO chairman John Pryor said: "The objective is to try and educate those dealing directly with fleet managers on the challenges faced and how the levels of service provided - or not - can impact.

"Manufacturers are doing a great job in supplying vehicles with low CO2 emissions and excellent MPG, but the delivery of great cars and vans is only one issue that fleet operators have to deal with.

"There are numerous other matters - spare part requirements, service, maintenance and repair issues, total cost of ownership data and replacement cycles for example - and that also brings in other organisations such as contract hire and leasing companies."

Pryor said the clinics will enable attendees to gain a more holistic view of a fleet manager's job and the issues faced daily.

ACFO international division

ACFO is also considering making its website and its library of fleet policies, best practice procedures, fact sheets and white papers and its forums available to overseas fleet operators with the launch of an international division.

Pryor said: "The principles of fleet management are the same the world over, even though legislation, taxation and regulations may be different. ACFO receives annually a number of unsolicited requests for advice and information from fleet managers working overseas and we believe the launch of an international division will boost membership."

Meanwhile, following on from seminars in recent years, ACFO is planning to hold events focusing on vehicle choice and fuel reimbursement in May; end-of-contract charges in June; and vehicle taxation in the autumn.

2015 and the challenges facing fleet managers

ACFO believes fleet decision-makers will face little in the way of new challenges pre the 7th May, 2015  general election, but is warning that the new Government's in-tray could be full of issues impacting on fleet operations.

Top of the agenda could be changes to the carbon dioxide (CO2) based company car benefit-in-kind tax regime amid well-documented air quality concerns not helped by the popularity of diesel vehicles.

However, with the CO2-based system being simple to operate and easily understood, ACFO is urging caution in respect of any wholesale changes.

Pryor said ACFO will continue to work closely with Government departments and promote members' views and concerns.

The recent Autumn Statement signalled the necessity for a further tightening of public sector finances and in that respect 'grey fleet' vehicles could be in the spotlight.

Pryor said: "All employers should analyse whether paying employees to drive their own cars on business delivers value for money, while also acknowledging compliance issues, the age of such vehicles - typically older than fleet vehicles - and whether they are serviced, maintained and repaired as well as company-provided vehicles."

ACFO will also continue to "push" HM Revenue and Customs to publish reimbursement mileage rates for electric vehicles and is continuing to work with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) as it introduces new online services including early in 2015 a driving licence validation service.

It is also keeping a "watching brief" on Government and Highways Agency plans to introduce charging on other roads similar to the recent introduction of "free flow" charging at the Dartford Crossing, which has caused administrative upheaval for fleet managers.

Pryor said: "We remain concerned that the new Dartford Crossing charges could be the start of a creeping privatisation of roads, particularly with Government finances tight and it having recently announced a £15 billion investment in the network in the coming years."