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Air pollution is now the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK, and according to Public Health England[i] accounts for up to 36,000 deaths a year. It is something that most of us agree needs to be tackled. The good news is that the popularity of low-emission vehicles has gained traction over the last couple of years and the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT)[ii] is forecasting that electric and hybrid vehicles will increase their share of the market from 10.9% in 2020 to 14.7% in 2021.
London has an ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) in place already, and other clean air zones have been proposed for more UK cities, including Birmingham, Bath, Oxford, Sheffield and Leeds. Access to city centres is likely to become even more restrictive over time in order to improve air quality, with entry only available to the most low-emitting vehicles.
So how can fleet managers play their part in helping their own business align with the Government’s Net Zero target, but at the same time ensure it does not impact negatively on transport costs and ultimately stifle business plans?
By thinking laterally and putting the focus on ‘usership’ rather than ownership, companies can update vehicles in the same way as they do for mobile phone contracts. They can then be sure of having access to a young fleet of the most technologically advanced, low-emission vehicles. The cost of upgrading entire fleets to ensure that they are compliant is huge, but vehicle hire which is tailored to individual business needs — whether it be long-term or for just a few days — offers a real alternative. Servicing and maintenance is taken care of by the provider and so fleet managers can be sure that staff are in safe, reliable vehicles as well as staying in control of costs and keeping pressure off the balance sheet.
Agility is a key marker for any successful business and there are now a number of flexible mobility solutions available to keep businesses and their staff moving.
A recent survey by Venson Automotive Solutions[iii] showed that 57% of business drivers would consider ditching their own car to reduce emissions – and over a quarter of those surveyed said that having support from employers in the form of endorsed schemes would actively encourage them to try alternative modes of transport.
Car sharing is one such alternative and is becoming more popular amongst the business community as it offers an additional level of flexibility. Employees can access a range of low-emissions cars by the hour, either as part of a company pool or simply off the street using the latest access technology.
Another option is ride-hailing and chauffeur services which can be accessed via an app. This offers a range of different travel options that give managers full visibility and control of employee travel costs. From an executive driver service that will pick up an important visitor from the airport, through to hailing a ride to get to another business site or that meeting across the other side of the city.
For a company or brand to position itself as an environmental forward thinker, and have the agility to comply with new emission regulations as and when they arise, fleet managers will need to keep their options open and embrace flexible mobility solutions – something that could help them achieve business as well as emission targets.
[iii] Online Survey of 200 people conducted on 23.01.20