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Comment: Future proofing business with new rules in transport and parking

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The current state of the automotive and fleet industry raises many questions as to what the solution will be to make ‘the new normal’ work for businesses, explores Peter O’Driscoll, managing director at RingGo.

Peter O’Driscoll, managing director at RingGo

Peter O’Driscoll, managing director at RingGo

Balancing the business in trying times may seem difficult, but businesses leaders need to plan for what comes next even if they aren’t able to predict the future in its entirety.

As fleet managers focus on getting their employees on the road again, they must also consider other impacting factors such as electric vehicle adoption and parking. Changing behaviours and perceptions will impact the way in which we move for the foreseeable future, and businesses need to ensure that when employees are out and about, that they are functioning in the most sustainable and cost effective ways possible.

The rise of EV fleets

Industries worldwide are having to develop strategies that allow them to pivot, however some have been hit harder than others, especially businesses that depend on fleets and those in the automotive industry. As the initial lockdown brought transportation across the country to a halt, SMMT data showed that in March UK fleet registrations were down by 47.4% to 117,557 units, whilst suspended vehicle production has resulted in an estimated cost to the industry of a whopping £8.2bn.

Despite this, SMMT data also shows that the electric vehicle market saw a three-fold increase in registrations, reaching 11,694 units, in March 2020, while plug-in hybrid registrations grew by 38%. The shift to more eco-friendly vehicles has been a constant topic in the automotive industry, however with a bigger focus on sustainability and the preservation of the environment since the pandemic, more people are likely to make the shift from standard vehicles.

An additional driving force behind electric vehicle adoption is the change to the benefit in kind (BiK) tax regulation. Beginning in April 2020, company car drivers and fleet operators choosing an electric vehicle will incur zero tax on BiK. This will help to bring additional ROI to those looking to transition large numbers of vehicles to electric.

Relying on smarter solutions

As businesses closely follow the guidance of the government, the reliance of cashless services has been the saving grace for many during the pandemic. The role of contactless payments within society is evident almost everywhere you go. Despite the prevalence of contactless solutions, many still find themselves standing at parking machines paying by cash. Even contactless machines require users to input the duration of their stay directly on the machine. However, new measures are now paramount.

As people becoming more mindful of social distancing measures, businesses will need to turn to solutions that allow for a completely contact-less transaction that will keep employees safe when travelling. Implementing an app based parking system, that links to central billing capabilities, provides this touch free scenario for drivers that find themselves parking up and down the country. If ease of use when out in the field isn’t enough, it is also a great way to monitor, predict and analyse the cost of parking to the business.

Business leaders need to acknowledge, not only the health and safety benefits, but also the cost, efficiency and productivity savings that can come by implementing a cashless parking solution ahead of the lockdown lift. When working to tight delivery schedules, avoiding queues or unnecessary circling can make all the difference to productivity levels and consequently, the bottom-line. By implementing a streamlined payment and invoicing system, employees will be able to pay for, extend and submit parking invoices all through their phones without jeopardising their safety.

Parking plays a major role in the day to day functions of fleets and can have a substantial impact on expenses without decision makers noticing. Implementing an integrated parking and back office solution, removes the laborious manual processes of submitting expenses, processing repayments and tracing overall spend. By having a streamlined parking payment system in place business leaders will be able to keep hold of the reigns when it comes to time and money savings.

The current climate is making many people realise just how much the world around us is changing, yet the deciding factor as to how well businesses are able to adjust to the new normal is highly dependent on actions that are taken now. By taking advantage of trends and by implementing new strategies, businesses can put in place measures that can help to future proof the continuity of the business, as well as save time and money.

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Jonathan Musk

Jonathan turned to motoring journalism in 2013 having founded, edited and produced Autovolt - one of the UK's leading electric car publications. He has also written and produced books on both Ferrari and Hispano-Suiza, while working as an international graphic designer for the past 15 years. As the automotive industry moves towards electrification, Jonathan brings a near-unrivalled knowledge of EVs and hybrids to Fleet World Group.