The strength of the fleet manager’s role has been identified as one of the few positives in the recession, according to the latest Company Car Trends report from GE Capital.

Fleet managers have regained the lead role in how company cars and vans are run in 41.4% of organisations – up from 30.4% a year earlier, according to the quarterly report.

A GE spokesman said: “The change appears to be part of a swing toward fleet decision making being based more on cost – those in purchasing roles have also seen a rise in influence from 1.7% to 9.6% in the same period; conversely, human resources has fallen away from 8.1% to 5.2%.”

Gary Killeen, commercial leader for the fleet division of GE Capital, said: “The story of fleet in 2009 is that the human resources-based company car policies of recent years, based heavily on attracting and retaining the right employees, have rapidly given way to cost concerns.

“As a key part of this, the fleet manager is making a comeback. Companies are redrawing their fleet policies with a strong bias on containing costs and increasing operational efficiency, and they need someone to implement those policies on a daily basis – a fleet manager.”

Killeen added: “The motivational aspect of being provided with a company car remains, but it is no longer the keystone of a fleet policy – instead, cost is at the centre of all decisions as a consequence of the impact of the recession.

“In many ways, the company car is going back to basics. It is returning to its roots as a highly efficient and cost effective business transport tool that is also an important element of an employee benefits package.”