Better use of company cars could be key to minimising fleet costs in the long term, said fleet software firm CFC Solutions.

The company points to its experience alongside Enterprise Rent-A-Car research that says 45% of small firms use their vehicles for fewer than two hours per week.

Neville Briggs, CFC managing director, said: “At the start of the recession, many companies started to look closely at car use for almost the first time – they minimised fuel and maintenance costs by cutting out unnecessary journeys.

“However, few fleets have taken the next logical step – of asking whether a little used company car is really needed, whether it could be used differently, or whether there are other methods of company car provision that could be explored? All of these are really questions of utilisation.”

He added: “The trend towards contract extensions has allowed fleets to sidestep making new long term fleet decisions based mainly on cost effectiveness. It has meant that they do not have to tackle long term issues such as whether a driver really needs a company car. Now may be the time to ask these questions as contract extensions start to end and decisions on renewing cars are being made.”

Briggs said this was not just a question of offering employees who rarely used their company car some form of ‘cash or car’ offer but also looking at other methods of provision that are emerging such as car clubs and short term leasing alongside established flexible car provision methods such as daily rental.

He explained: “There are many kinds of company car provision now available and some of the newer ones, such as car clubs and short term leasing, could be suitable for drivers who only need a vehicle for a handful of hours every week or month.

“This would mean a kind of fleet management starts to emerge that is quite different from the model of recent years – one in which current car need is the overriding factor in management decisions rather than employee satisfaction and retention.”

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