Five Tips For Choosing the Best Fleet Vehicles
It’s well-recognised that the act of procuring your fleet’s vehicles will take up a major part of your budget – so it’s important to choose the right vehicles.
Selecting the best fleet vehicles and allocating them can present one of the greatest conundrums for fleet managers. Alongside keeping employees happy, there are several complex factors to consider – notably preserving capital and trying to provide ‘more with less’.
When it comes to vehicle selection, one of the biggest questions we hear from fleet managers is, “how can I make the best procurement decisions?”
First things first, do your research! The best strategy assesses all factors that can impact on budget, capital expenditure decisions, leasing options and cost of ownership.
When choosing fleet vehicles, here are five top considerations:
1. Use and operation
Whether you’ll be buying, financing or leasing your fleet vehicles, make sure that they are appropriate for the intended use.
Try to avoid being brand or manufacturer specific as this undoubtedly limits choice. Instead, focus on vehicle capabilities and performance to match your needs.
Determining suitability could include:
Size, style and carrying capacity – what are the people, product or equipment requirements that a vehicle needs to carry? As an example, a vehicle with a traditional boot would be impracticable if regularly carrying large, bulky loads.
Routing, roads and terrains – will the vehicle be used for lengthy motorway commutes, urban stop-start driving patterns or to be used for off-road jobs? This is where vehicle type and fuel becomes very important – a compact, economical van wouldn’t be fit for purpose with the rigours of driving across construction sites. Similarly, an off-road 4×4 vehicle carrying out regular long road trips would prove costly to run in terms of fuel consumption.
Always consider downsizing if your operation really doesn’t need a bigger vehicle. By reducing unnecessary vehicle weight, you could reap valuable fuel savings.
2. Standardisations and specifications
Standardising specifications can be useful for determining suitability of vehicles for your fleet. These can include:
Support for your corporate objectives, branding and image
Employee satisfaction – an appropriate vehicle for the job
Support maintenance, training and parts inventories
With the debate about diesel engine vehicles and their effect on the environment still rumbling on, high up on the list should be fuel type and emissions. Once the fuel of choice, diesel is a higher cost purchase vehicle but provides economical fuel consumption for distance driving in comparison to petrol vehicles. Overall, diesel had a tendency to offer creating greater cost savings. However, the popularity of diesel is wavering due to press negativity surrounding harmful NOx emissions and a subsequent, recently introduced Government subsidy on tax. Alternative- fuelled vehicles are slowly infiltrating fleets – namely electric (EV) and electric hybrid (PHEV) vehicles.
To determine fuel suitability for your fleet, consider the pros and cons of each and how they meet with your fleet requirements. Engine downsizing can be beneficial too – smaller engines have a tendency to be more fuel
To compare the different makes and models including fuel emissions, fuel consumption and company car tax band, the Government’s Department for Transport website is a great place to start.
3. The need for additional extras
It’s not unusual for fleet managers to allow a degree of flexibility within fleet vehicle selection – additional extras or ‘perks’ to boost employee satisfaction.
Embrace the opportunity to get first-hand experience from the people who will operate the vehicles. Get their honest opinions about how different vehicles could live up to the tasks that they need to perform.
Employee satisfaction tends to go hand-in-hand with being responsible and respectful towards the vehicle. however, it’s important that employee demand for these extras are aligned with company operational objectives.
If reducing accident costs is a high priority for your fleet, then it’s worth considering vehicle technologies that are designed to enhance safety and mitigate the potential for accidents.
A thorough cost-benefit analysis of those solutions can lead to more informed choices. Plus, it’s worth considering that better accident management might go hand-in-hand with a faster return on investment and lower costs.
5. Maintenance and upkeep
Maintenance can be a costly element of vehicle ownership so be sure to do your research into projected costs for a vehicle’s routine service needs, parts and labour. Check the warranty coverage to ensure that it will offset against projected repair costs.
Fleet maintenance software can be invaluable in reporting on vehicle performance, maintenance and costs to help influence future choice.
With variance in each fleet operation, this list is by no means exhaustive. To help select the most appropriate vehicles for your fleet, these factors need to be considered and measured fairly against your business requirements.
Fleet management software is an invaluable tool for utilising your fleet-related information to understand which vehicles match your business needs the closest. Every fleet operation is different and so this list is certainly not exhaustive. However, if you want to select the most appropriate vehicles for your fleet, all of these factors need to be considered and weighed against your business requirements.
Other cost factors that will undoubtedly impact on your vehicle replacement cycles include economic factors – from interest rates affecting financing costs, tax and Benefit-In-Kind payments through to the value of used vehicles on the resale market.
Above all, remember to achieve the goal of getting the best value throughout a vehicle’s service life, whilst providing the right equipment for the job, requires sound and accurate knowledge.
In terms of both capital investments and total cost of ownership, fleet vehicles are one of the most expensive purchases your company will make. It really is worth the effort to make sure that you select the best vehicles right from the start.