ARI: Driver & Tyre Management key to cutting fleet costs
New data from the company reveals in real terms that vehicle maintenance costs are reducing from year to year, yet repair costs for some fleets are rising because of driver abuse and "unfair" wear and tear.
Thirty years ago the Vauxhall Cavalier 1.6 S five-door – a fleet favourite at the time – cost £6,932. Over a three-year/60,000 mile contract, maintenance cost £1,620 (£45 per month), equivalent to 23% of the purchase price.
Today, Vauxhall’s equivalent car, a £16,200 Insignia 1.4 T SE hatchback, over an identical operating cycle, is calculated to have maintenance costs of £1,910 (£53 per month). That is equivalent to 8% of the purchase price.
Taking inflation at 2.5% per annum into account, the Cavalier’s maintenance costs at 2012 prices are £114 per month – more than double the cost of the Insignia’s.
In 1982, however, tyres accounted for approximately 15% of total vehicle maintenance spend and today that has increased to 40%.
ARI Fleet UK chairman Geoffrey Bray (Inset, Left) said: 'A modern vehicle is a major capital investment and is crammed with technology designed to improve performance, reduce maintenance costs and, via dashboard reminders, inform drivers when checks need to be undertaken.
'Vehicles are highly technical and efficient machines. But if they are not maintained in accordance with manufacturer recommendations and drivers ignore dashboard warning lights in relation to topping up fluid levels or service remainders then fleets pay the price,' he added.
Vehicle maintenance can be dissected into three areas:
Routine – regular service and component replacement
Reactionary – mechanical failure, breakdown, ‘unfair’ wear and tear, abuse
Preventative – checks based on length of ownership (time) and mileage that should be dealt with immediately but can lead to costly maintenance bills if ignored.
Mr Bray said: 'Vehicle maintenance is not optional. It is an absolute essential to meet warranty terms; from a vehicle performance/efficiency standpoint; the corporate requirement to meet at-work driving duty of care regulations and best practice; to maintain an employer’s image; and to safeguard a model’s residual value.
'Our data reveals that contrary to widespread belief, routine maintenance costs are not increasing, but rather have seen a significant reduction over the past 30 years,' he further added.
Yet, some fleets are seeing maintenance costs rise and that, says Mr Bray, who has more than 25 years of fleet experience as the founder of Fleet Support Group, which is now known as ARI Fleet UKTM, is due to a failure by some fleets to manage their drivers effectively.
'Drivers are the biggest influence on maintenance costs. Manage drivers effectively and unforeseen maintenance costs resulting from a failure to care for a valuable piece of equipment will reduce.
'Tyre replacement, for example, costs fleets a fortune, but frequently that is down to the driver not regularly checking pressure levels and for signs of uneven tread wear,' Mr Bray continued.
ARI Fleet UK’s independent garage network is equipped with Masterview – a unique remote video inspection system used to transmit live pictures via broadband of vehicles about to undergo service, maintenance or repair back to ARI’s maintenance centre. These pictures are then viewed by ARI’s maintenance experts, who check the condition of the vehicles and components.
When vehicle abuse or damage is detected, fleet managers in charge of the vehicles are informed and shown the photographic evidence so they can take action. Consequently, Masterview is used to proactively police vehicle condition. It also provides – in every case, whether abuse has occurred or not – a pictorial record of the service, maintenance and repairs each fleet vehicle receives.
Mr Bray said: 'Some of the pictures that we see show vehicles in an appalling mechanical condition as well as debris littering the interior. Drivers are clearly failing to look after their cars and vans and this ultimately costs their employers’ money through increased maintenance costs.
'Fleet managers must adopt a zero tolerance approach to vehicle maintenance. That means managing drivers, changing attitudes and the result will be reduced maintenance bills,' he concluded.