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Potential ‘explosion’ in grey fleet on cards

The grey fleet sector could see an “explosion” over the coming year as increasing numbers of people turn away from public transport.

Grey fleet already outnumbers conventional company cars by a ratio of around six to one and the new research indicates that proportion could increase over the next year

A new Capgemini report has revealed that just 8% of people now see buses, trains and trams as their primary means of transport, compared to 21% before the pandemic.

And this is in turn pushing people into cars – with 45% of people now planning on buying their own vehicle within the next 12 months compared to 27% when the same question was asked last April.

Highlighting the new research, Peter Golding, managing director at fleet software specialist FleetCheck said it was something that fleets would need to address.

He explained: “Grey fleet already outnumbers conventional company cars by a ratio of around six to one and this research indicates that proportion could increase over the next year.

“People who have used public transport as part of their job or simply for commuting look likely to instead want to use a car in very large numbers. This will have all kinds of implications for employers – ranging from potentially greater demand for at-work parking through to a need to upgrade safety inspection procedures.

“Of course, there is a chance that, as vaccination programmes begin to take effect, there will be a drift back to buses and trains, but that is likely to take time and once people have become used to having their own transport, many will want to keep it.”

It’s an issue that the Association of Fleet Professionals has already warned about due to the pandemic; the AFP said the fleet sector would need to be “very single-minded when it comes to ensuring that risk management is well-controlled”.

FleetCheck’s Peter Golding said that there was an argument that the needs of grey fleet drivers and vehicles were among the most overlooked aspects of business travel.

“The fact that employers have exactly the same legal responsibilities for grey fleet vehicles as for company cars is an area of widespread ignorance in our experience and, even where it is known, is often quietly pushed aside at a corporate level.

“Sometimes, and this is largely inexplicable, the management of the grey fleet is left to human resources departments even where there is a professionally-operated fleet management function that should be in charge.

“However, the potential grey fleet growth that we are likely to see in the short-medium term should help to concentrate minds. There seems little question that this is going to become a larger and more important element of company travel. It will need managing.”

The BVRLA also looked at the issue of grey fleet for its new Company Car Report. This explores the total numbers of  cars used for business travel, which is estimated at 12.3 million, including some 10.5 million ‘grey fleet’ vehicles, which make up 85% of the sector. The research also found that grey fleet cars are far older and more polluting than average company cars – bringing a range of issues.

Peter Golding added that grey fleet management had become an increasing driver of fleet software sales in recent years.

“Where employers do recognise that they need to start managing their grey fleet on equal footing with their company cars, many turn to fleet software as a highly effective method of ensuring that all legal requirements are being met.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 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.