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Covid increasing split between car and van management

The demands of car and van management are becoming increasingly disparate as a result of the coronavirus crisis, new data suggests.

Paul Holland, managing director of UK fuel at Allstar parent firm Fleetcor,

Insights from Allstar’s ServicePoint service, maintenance and repair (SMR) portal reveal that due to fundamental developments during the last few months, many van fleets are now facing higher levels of utilisation while company cars are covering fewer miles.

Paul Holland, managing director of UK fuel at Allstar parent firm Fleetcor, said: “At the start of lockdown, we saw circumstances emerge where many van fleets were operating under considerable pressure to deliver essential services. For many of them, that situation hasn’t really let up.

“Car fleets were basically grounded at the same time and, given the large proportion of people that are continuing to work from home and increased use of video conferencing, the mileage covered by many of them has remained much reduced.”

The increasing divergence has led to two main questions that fleets need to ask, according to Holland: “How do people in charge of managing vehicles react to this divergence and is it a permanent change for fleets?”

The data from the ServicePoint platform, which is powered by a platform from Fleetcor subsidiary epyx, also indicates how the situation is being handled.

“From what we can see, van fleets are having to deal with two impulses – the need to keep vehicles safe at times of high usage and the desire to keep on top of costs when general economic conditions mean that budgets are under pressure,” explained Holland. “For cars, the issues are almost the reverse – how to maintain vehicles that are undergoing much reduced use, especially the necessity to check them regularly to ensure ongoing safety.”

This situation is due to continue for some time due to the current rise in the number of coronavirus cases and renewed government advice, and Fleetcor has said that while journeys that are made in company cars will continue to prove the value of these vehicles as business tools, there is likely to be “much more emphasis on whether travel is strictly necessary or options such as video conferencing can be used as an alternative”.

Conversely, it is difficult to see van fleets becoming much less busy.

“This side of the development and deployment of a successful vaccine, or some other solution, we are unlikely to see whether this divergence is a permanent development because only at that point will we be able to see whether car fleets will attempt to return to the kind of usage patterns that were seen before the crisis,” Holland added.

“Our view at the moment is that the truth will probably lie somewhere between the two positions, that post-coronavirus company car users will cover fewer miles than before the pandemic, but more than at present. The degree is probably impossible to predict.”

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Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.

Natalie edits all the Fleet World websites and newsletters, and loves to hear about any latest industry news.

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