The increasing number of fleet contract extensions during the coronavirus pandemic has been demonstrated by data from software firm Epyx.

It says transaction data from its 1link Service Network SMR platform shows there were around 10,000 additional routine services carried out between April and August this year than during the same period in 2019, with vehicles having passed their stated contract end.

In addition, despite the UK Government temporarily suspending the requirement for MOTs at the height of lockdown, there were an extra 11,000 tests for company vehicles.

Epyx commercial director Debbie Fox said: “Like the rest of the fleet sector, we were anecdotally aware that widespread contract extensions were occurring but not really the full extent and these figures help to shine some light on what has been happening. 

“Usually, there are very few maintenance actions concerning contract-extended vehicles on 1link Service Network but, in 2020, there have been significant numbers.

“The causes of this were probably twofold. On one hand, getting hold of new vehicles and having them delivered was very difficult during the period in question and, on the other, some fleets were undoubtedly extending contracts on existing vehicles, almost certainly in order to minimise future financial commitments while they took stock of their situation.”

According to Fox, the decision by fleets to continue with MOTs is likely due to risk management considerations, which she said was something to be applauded.

She added that Epyx’s data also showed a major fall in mechanical and body repairs across nearly all fleets, attributed to greatly reduced mileage during lockdown.

Fox said that the April to August period had probably been the most unusual in 1link’s history.

She said: “Because there are millions of vehicles on the platform and it is so well-established, it usually operates in very predictable manner but we suddenly found that a large section of users were essentially immobile while others were operating frontline services around the clock. It meant a genuine operational shift for us, which we worked hard to meet.

“Now, things are back to pre-coronavirus levels in terms of the number of transactions going through the platform and their value but, like others across the fleet sector and beyond, we are viewing the next few months and the continuing impact of the pandemic with caution.”