What can fleet managers expect in 2022? Managing Director of CBVC, Mike Manners, considers 10 fleet critical themes and issues in the year ahead.
1 Duty of Care
I can’t think of a better place to start our fleet view of 2022 than here: with many drivers returning from an extended Christmas break, or those still working at home under COVID measures, ensuring the safety of drivers has to be the number one priority for fleet managers. This ranges from communicating back-to-work safety behind-the-wheel messages to proactive fleet management of the vehicle via driver safety checks provided through our app.
Adding to this list must also be ensuring the mental welfare of drivers. November through to February are particularly difficult for drivers, thanks to the shorter days and the amount of driving in difficult conditions, from low setting sun to lashing rain and freezing snow. It all puts extra stress on drivers, and greater levels of fatigue. So inspect your fleet telematics and understand what they may be telling you about driver behaviour and if this might be pointing towards stress or fatigue.
2 Growth in EV company and salary sacrifice cars
The pace of change to an electric future continues to gather speed, with a run rate of some 11% of all cars registered being pure electric. And that’s only going to rise, assisted by benign company car taxation rates of 2% for the next three years. For many drivers, it’s a case of coming back into the company car from a cash taker position; for others it’s a chance to become involved at a low cost in the EV boom thanks to the popularity of salary sacrifice, enabling all staff to drive EVs at a low benefit in kind rate.
If there’s a downside to this it’s the lack of visibility on future tax rates for EVs. We are used to the Treasury providing the fleet industry a four-year window. Several fleet bodies have been lobbying the Treasury for this visibility but so far there has been no indication of future tax treatments of EVs. While we suspect tax increases will be introduced gradually, forward visibility would help planning. Because if there’s one thing fleets need, it’s no surprises in their forward planning.
3 EV success turns spotlight on charging infrastructure
The inverse of the EV growth is the increasing requirement for charging infrastructure. Until the end of March there is still the opportunity for home owning EV drivers to take advantage of the Government grant for home chargers. But the window is closing. In the new tax year, the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme will be targeted at a new set of drivers in flats or rented property. Which in itself is a good thing, but there needs to be further investment in kerbside charging facilities as well as an increase in fast chargers so drivers can be confident that they can travel distances and confidently recharge their vehicles.
On the road, the growth of charging hubs and ultra rapid or rapid chargers continues to rise – offering fast fill ups – and expect this to continue at pace in 2022 as operators look to grab market share and provide drivers with an essential service.
4 Growing take up of e-LCVs on fleets
If 2021 was the take off point for electric cars on fleets, we expect 2022 to be the year when electric vans really start to come of age. Thanks to a broader range of van styles which can accommodate a variety of payloads and battery ranges, fleet managers are now able to plan how e-LCVs can fit into current operational requirements. Expect to see growth in this sector.
5 Chip delays continue
Unfortunately, the shortage of chips – the microprocessors that control much of a car’s functionality – are still in short supply. The number of chips in a car varies from between 1000 to 4000, but there just aren’t enough to go round. Current estimates suggest that the shortage will continue until at least Q3 with greater availability in Q4. So fleets need to plan replacement cycles carefully and order ahead. Fortunately, electric vehicles are being prioritised for production, so that is helpful for companies wishing to decarbonise their fleets.
6 Shortage of daily rental vehicles
If there are shortages of new vehicles thanks to semiconductor supply issues, the same factor places a premium on daily rental availability, while also exerting upward pressure on prices. A number of rental providers are now insisting on a minimum 3 day hire period. This Christmas we suggested fleets did not off-hire during the festive season, because there was no guarantee of availability in the new year. These issues will persist. It’s a particular problem for van fleets that need to quickly upscale vehicle count when operationally required.
7 Mobility management comes back into focus
Prior to COVID-19, corporate mobility solutions were beginning to gain traction. But the pandemic put a smart brake on further progress thanks to the preponderance in shared use of assets within mobility schemes. But with many employees having altered their working practices during various lockdowns – greater use of hybrid working practices for example – the requirement for a car has become less important. Indeed, many cash takers may in fact prefer a mobility allowance providing use of everything from micro mobility e-scooters to the use of taxi hire, particularly where daily rental is no longer so freely available thanks to supply constraints (see point 6 above).
So we expect fleets to begin developing mobility allowances as demand increases. One to watch.
8 Impact of CAZs
Clean Air Zones are growing in number, from the expansion of the London Ultra Low Emission Zone and the introduction of Birmingham and Bath CAZs in 2021, to the zero emission zone in Oxford and the roll out of Scottish city CAZs in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, not to mention the Manchester CAZ due later in 2022.
While many fleets with a decarbonisation policy already in place will not find these a particular barrier to CAZ entry, it may prove different for businesses operating within new CAZs, which might have to adjust vehicle choice to remain operationally efficient.
9 Autonomous vehicles start coming into focus
While they may still be some way off the fleet agenda at the moment, autonomous vehicles with a variety of trials will begin to start making their presence felt. For example, at the end of 2021 a new autonomous shuttle trial was activated around the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire. The shuttle is being insured by Aviva to better understand the role of insurance with autonomous vehicles. Earlier in the year, autonomous and connected shuttles started transporting people around Warwick university. It’s one for the future – but it’s beginning to happen.
10 With the rise in EVs, what happens to the tax raised from fuel duty and Vehicle Excise Duty?
It’s a good question, and one which has no doubt passed through the minds of every fleet manager: how does the Chancellor recoup the estimated the growing loss of taxation from fuel and road tax, estimated at £40bn by 2030?
Road tolling looks the most likely answer with some form of pay for use model which may possibly be modulated around choice of vehicle powertrain.
The Government certainly needs to start openly discussing its plans for whatever form of road pricing it plans to introduce. It’s an important topic for fleets to understand properly and how any form of road pricing may impact fleet operating costs.
So there you have it: 10 themes that will play out in 2022 with varying degrees of impact on immediate fleet policy. Nevertheless, all should be on the agenda during the next 12 months.
And, of course, if you need any help or assistance, our fleet management team is always on hand to help. Just call 01283 351200.