Recent developments in fleet vehicles are serving to ensure the company car lives on
If the current state of Britain's company car market could be summed up in song, you would probably imagine it in the miserabalist mode of Leonard Cohen.
Uncertainties over taxation changes, linked to exhaust emissions, are causing fleet managers to shudder at the idea of ordering new vehicles (what happens if you get lumbered with 500 of the wrong ones?). Droopy residual values, and the ongoing cash-for-cars debate are adding to long faces in the world of fleet vehicles.
Yet should company car proponents really be looking sad? According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, company cars took 54.6 per cent of Britain's total new car market last year.
Given that total British new car registrations are currently hovering at about 2 million annually, this represents a lot of metal, and a lot of employees for whom the convenience and status of a work-provided set of wheels remains undiminished.
Yes, change is coming to the company car park, and with this in mind Personnel Today has drawn up a list of five positive fleet developments.
The choice of cars deemed suitable for fleet use has never been wider, with once-unlikely marques ranging from Skoda to Mercedes all keen to secure business sales. This slots in well with the onward march of user/chooser policies, and it is now rare to find cars with specifications which do not give a nod to business driver requirements - everything from airbags to air conditioning. Gone are the days of matt brown paint and plastic seats - today's fleet offerings are generally fitted with the right options and painted in colours that will attract private buyers when the time comes to sell them on.
Paul Simpson, South of England national leasing manager for Mercedes Benz, says specification levels of quality marques such as his have been improved by fleet industry requirements - drivers are less prepared to tolerate stripped-out specifications from prestige German brands. Air conditioning is also considered essential in today's fleet vehicles. "The standard specification is rising and we are adding value to our cars as a result," he says.
James Langley, client development manager for fleet management business PH* Vehicle Management, thinks the remuneration value of the company car is as strong as ever. "Choice is seen as one of t