Industry optimistic for economy recovery but sceptical over fleet growth
Over half (57%) of fleet managers believe that the UK economy will improve slightly by the start of 2011, while a further 4% think that the economy will see a significant improvement this year. Just one in five (22%) believe that the economy will deteriorate.
The majority of fleet businesses also perceive that there will be no change to their fleet sizes, with 45% anticipating that car fleets will remain the same size, and 71% believing that the size of light commercial vehicle (LCV) fleets will remain constant. However, as companies seek to reorganise in the face of the current economic upturn, it is worrying that some 30% of fleet managers are concerned that their fleets will decrease in size.
Gary Killeen, UK fleet commercial leader, GE Capital, said: 'Whilst it is encouraging to see that fleet managers anticipate the UK economy to strengthen this year, it is very telling that they do not consider that their own fleets will grow as a result of the improved economy. It is understandable that many of these managers are prioritising cost-efficiency savings on the back of the recession, but it is interesting that the economic recovery is not linked to an increase in fleet size as businesses look to longer-term growth.'
The study also revealed that nearly nine out of ten (89%) of fleet managers think that running costs will be the most significant factor affecting their decisions over the next 12 months, a rise from the 86% who currently find running costs the greatest concern.
With the general election almost upon us and taxes likely to play a major role in the next Budget, it is no surprise to see that those surveyed feel that driver and corporate taxation will become a bigger issue over the course of the year – 70% believe this would be an important issue in a year's time compared to 66%. Possible government legislation providing a total ban on mobile phones in cars has also been reflected in the statistics, with over half of the managers questioned (53%) thinking that mobile working will be an issue by the end of 2010, a rise of 4% from now.
Fleet managers also imagine that fleet safety and risk management (80%), as well as fuel costs (79%), will become even more important during the calendar year. However, factors such as improved communication technology and other travel options such as rail or air were not seen as such major concerns in 2010, with just 56% and 48% of managers, respectively, marking these issues as significant factors.