Adapt & survive

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As organisations look to improve the efficiency of their workforces and vehicles, the challenge is on for the vehicle leasing industry to widen its scope to provide a total mobility solution to corporates and employees.

Provision of a financed vehicle with all the added ancillary services to keep it on the road will simply not be enough to meet the changing mobility needs of organisations and their employees across Europe over the next decade.

Charles Darwin was quoted as saying: 'It’s not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change' and that is a useful analogy for the industry.

Planes, trains and automobiles come to mind but add in buses, hire cars and even bicycles and you are closer to meeting a brief where organisations strive to improve their people and vehicle utilisation at the same time as reducing costs and their environmental impact.

This change in utilisation comes on the back of drivers changing their lifestyles and even more organisations introducing major initiatives such as home working to improve people and vehicle efficiencies.

Something that will impact everyone very soon is the added challenge of keeping people and vehicles mobile as governments around Europe continue to penalise and restrict motorists when they enter major cities in a bid to improve air quality.

All major cities are now coming under the same pressure of improving air quality and that will mean restricting entry to certain types of vehicles. It is already happening in London with the introduction of the Low Emission Zone which impacts how ‘heavy diesel vehicles’ can move in and out of the city.

One forward thinking fleet in the UK with a close eye on people and vehicle mobility and reducing emissions is the Environment Agency, which runs 5,000 operational cars and vans. It encourages employees and managers to ask – do we need to make this journey and if so, what is the most efficient means from a fuel and CO2 emissions perspective?

The company-wide use of video and telephone conferencing reduces emissions and travel costs each year and travelling on company business may mean using public transport ahead of using a car.

Once a company opens its mind to a wider approach to people mobility, essential journey planning is adopted wherever possible. Sales journeys to a major city like London or Paris may mean parking on the outskirts of the city and using public transport for the remaining 10 -15kms to avoid congestion charges and costly car park charges.

A longer journey of say 200-300kms may mean taking a train and then catching a taxi or bus at the other end, or if a longer journey is required, hiring a car from a rental company or pay-on-use car club to complete a journey. These types of suppliers are becoming more prevalent and now run car fleets in many of the major cities around Europe.

Flying is often seen as a last resort from a cost and emissions perspective, but sometimes cannot be avoided, especially if it’s long-haul or involves an important face-to-face meeting. A third party on hand to provide independent help and assistance to ensure the most efficient route and plane ticket is purchased would be invaluable for corporates as part of their overall mobility provision.

All the above are already available. In the future, organisations like Hitachi Capital are well placed to extend their service offering to include this extra level of support and integrate these services. Their knowledgeable customer service and operations teams are committed to keeping drivers on the road and mixing it up to provide a range of other mobility services that can become an integral part of their product offering.

Darwin’s quote relates beautifully to how fleet suppliers need to be adaptable in the future to change what is an established sector. Those that adapt quickly will be rewarded with future growth and success.

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