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Connectivity keeps the grey fleet on track.

Rebecca Kerr - 28th June 2017

If you have people in your business using their own car for work, how much do you really know about the condition of the vehicle they are driving, its roadworthiness, whether they have breakdown support in place, if the tax and MOT are up to date? What about if they have an accident while out on business? How soon would you know about it and would you have any idea of the circumstances surrounding that accident – could your business be culpable? These are some of the challenges of managing what’s been dubbed as ‘the grey fleet’, a term used to describe any vehicles that do not belong to the company, but which are used for business travel. Keeping track of the grey fleet has been a challenge for as long as the grey fleet has existed.

Naturally there is much greater certainty around employees in a company owned or a leased fleet. For a start these fleet vehicles tend to be new or nearly new and many larger fleets have fleet management solutions to feed data on any emerging faults, as well as how, when and where they are driven to support operational efficiencies as well as their duty of care obligations.

Up until relatively recently, it’s been a bit more tricky to achieve the same level insight for grey fleet vehicles and there have been fresh concerns that grey fleets are not being managed as diligently as they should be[1], with one in six firms failing to make adequate checks. With last year’s strengthening of the sentencing guidelines for health and safety offences and corporate manslaughter, the risk of a serious fine or even imprisonment if an employee had a car accident while on business is very real for those businesses who cannot show they undertook any kind of monitoring of their grey fleet. That is aside from the huge emotional and reputational cost.

The good news is that new connected services have emerged to bridge the gap between the fleet solutions in company fleets and the need to manage grey fleet vehicles.

Self-installed and inexpensive technology is now enabling connectivity from grey fleets and this has the potential to vastly improve how these vehicles are managed from a duty of care perspective. Just as importantly, it also gives employees safety and cost-saving benefits regardless of whether they are driving for business or personal reasons.

With the employee’s permission, a small plug in device will feed data such as mileage information, emerging faults, and enable a range essential safety features like automatic 24 hour crash assistance and 24 hour theft tracking that can speed up Police recovery.

Key to the success of facilities such as this is ensuring the employee can take advantage of connectivity with handy services like MOT and Tax reminders plus a way to accurately record mileage for expense claims. These are good examples of the benefits for both drivers and employers. All the information, with the driver’s consent, is also made available to the fleet manager or business owner.

These kind of solutions work quietly behind the scenes enabling businesses to receive information directly from the car so that the fleet manager can just check in with the driver to ensure any maintenance issues are being addressed and in doing so help support their duty of care responsibilities and contain their costs. As well as the benefits it also offers employees, it sends a positive message from the business that their welfare is the first priority.

This kind of technology also has big benefits for the company owned or leased fleet. Most cars coming off the production line and going into the fleet market right now have some level of in-built connectivity. This is creating a huge amount of debate about who should have access to this data and how it should be used. The manufacturer is in a powerful position here as they are collecting the data from cars and effectively controlling it. However, the self-installed connectivity solution can enable fleet managers to gain access to this data and ensure their employees to benefit too.

Connectivity gives businesses much greater control of their fleets to protect their employees, their costs and their reputation. As the cost of the technology has fallen, firms with one grey fleet vehicle or 100 can benefit, at a typical cost of less than £8 per month per driver. It’s that easy.

[1] https://www.businesscarmanager.co.uk/one-six-firms-fail-check-grey-fleet-private-cars-used-work-2/

by Penny Searles

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