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Coronavirus likely to drive grey fleet use and impact mobility take-up

The threat of coronavirus is likely to have a “fundamental” effect on the rate of adoption of mobility solutions by fleets while increasing grey fleet use, believes FleetCheck.

Black and white image of row of cars

FleetCheck believes it’s almost inevitable that grey fleet use will increase as people look to undertake journeys in their own, personal space

Peter Golding, managing director at the fleet software specialist, pointed out that most mobility solutions relied on multi-user use of assets at a time when sharing of almost any asset could lead to the virus being much more widely distributed.

“The mobility products that have been promoted to fleets over the last few years as an alternative to existing corporate travel methods are fundamentally designed to get more out of existing transport assets – whether that is car sharing, ride sharing, access to pool vehicles, or increased use of public transport.

“In a world that is coping with coronavirus, all of these options become much more problematic. They are inevitably much riskier and potentially dangerous than the one driver, one vehicle company car or van model that they seek to replace.”

This has already been reflected in the Government’s changing stance on car-sharing, with the Cabinet Office having previously warned the public not to share a private vehicle with someone from another household. However, since then the Department for Transport has said that people who can’t walk, cycle or drive their own car, they can car share but should take precautions to protect themselves from infection. This avoids the risk of infection from public transport and helps public transport use to a minimum.

Peter Golding added that such thinking would unavoidably have an impact on which mobility solutions were considered viable by fleets and would become widely adopted over the next few years.

“It seems to us that coronavirus will have a fundamental effect on the mobility sector, at least this side of a vaccine or cure for the virus. Whichever risk management measures you adopt to offset the dangers of any form of sharing of transport, issues remain.

“There may instead be a fundamental shift in how fleets now view the future away from the mixed-solution vision of mobility that has been widely promoted in recent years.”

He added that the industry looks look towards a wider range of single-user transport solutions, especially for shorter journeys.

“Certainly, there are widespread reports of interest in e-bikes and mopeds,  it is possible that Renault Twizy-style one or two-person personal EVs could become popular.”

Golding also said FleetCheck believes it’s almost inevitable that grey fleet use will increase as people look to undertake journeys in their own, personal space.

He continued: “Employers may need to start thinking about how these changes fit into their operations and what changes they need to consider. This may include everything from considering the risk management implications of using an e-bike or moped on a local business journey to upgrading your fleet policy to take grey fleet operations more seriously.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.