Buyers set to increase influence over fleet

8 June 2005
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09 June 2005 | David Arminas

Fleet managers have called for greater purchasing involvement in vehicle contracts in order to reduce exposure to potential corporate manslaughter charges and improve value for money.

Richard Schooling, commercial director and head of UK operations for fleet management firm Alphabet, said more companies are dispensing with their fleets and paying employees to use their own cars. In his view this is done without considering the long-term business case.

"Good purchasers don't see fleet management as a commodity. They consider best value and wider issues such as risk management, to cover their company in case of things like corporate manslaughter."

His comments came as the Nottingham Business School released Cars, Cash, Care and Control, a report into company vehicle management. The report, commissioned by Alphabet, questioned 171 finance directors and found fleet managers have ultimate responsibility for vehicles in only 19 per cent of firms. This is expected to decline to 12 per cent within five years.

Half of the respondents said they are likely to offer cash to employees to use their own vehicles in the next three years.

Finance directors have responsibility for fleets in 43 per cent of firms and this is expected to rise to 51 per cent in five years.

The report's author, Peter Cooke, KPMG professor of automotive industries management at Nottingham Business School, said it raises a fundamental question for firms: who can best handle fleet issues in light of the risks?

"Purchasers can help whoever is ultimately responsible for fleet see the risks and mitigate them."

The report also found 68 per cent of respondents said corporate manslaughter issues, such as how employees use and insure their own vehicles for business use, does not receive a sufficiently high profile within firms.

"Businesses have a duty of care to ensure employees are adequately covered," he said.

"Unless they can prove this, they are open to corporate manslaughter charges, for which the government has said it will specifically try to legislate."

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