The Institute of Car Fleet Managers (ICFM) annual conference took place on Tuesday 20th March at The British Motor Museum in Gaydon, Warwickshire. The event celebrated 25 years of the ICFM and brought over 200 delegates together with the overarching theme of ‘Fuels for the Future, The Emissions Dilemma’ to talk best practice, industry outlook and celebrate the achievements of fleet managers who had passed their ICFM qualifications.
As a corporate partner of the ICFM, delegates from Pendragon Vehicle Management also attended the event. Here’s 5 things we learnt from the conference:
The industry is in a state of uncertainty
The ICFM raised discussion about air quality, emissions, GDPR, Brexit, and big data, though were unable to provide any answers to what will happen in regards to each topic. As it is, there is a lot a change happening in the fleet industry, but a lot of uncertainty around how it will happen and what the impact of that will be.
How will WLTP affect costs? How will clean air zones affect what vehicles or fuel types fleets will use? How will the charging network cope if the transition to hybrid and electric vehicles accelerates?
These were some of the questions that were asked of delegates, but that the ICFM were unable to answer. This isn’t a criticism of the ICFM however – nobody yet in the industry has the answers, which suggests there is a wider issue with Government and legislation that prevents fleets from taking a clear stance and progressing forward.
Do What Is Best For Your Fleet
During the conference, four accredited fleet managers took to the stage to deliver presentations on what they are doing with their fleets, and one point was repeated throughout – ‘Do what is best for your fleet.’
Dale Eynon, Director of Defra Group Fleet Service at the Environment Agency, gave a superb case study about how the Environment Agency have set their own targets for reducing the CO2 emissions of their vehicles, reducing NOx, and transitioning to hybrid and EV vehicles by 2025, because this best fit with their organisational aims and goals.
Similarly, Stewart Lightbody, Head of Fleet Services at Anglian Water, has used telematics to identify where and how far his vehicles travel, noting that in specific cases, switching from a diesel vehicle to a hybrid was appropriate. This was what was best for their fleet from a cost perspective.
Fleet managers were encouraged to do what is best for their business – use the right vehicle for the job.
There is still a need for diesel
Rupert Pontin from Cazana opened his presentation with the statement that modern diesel engines are equally as clean as the equivalent petrol engines.
We are firm believers that the government have missed an opportunity in both the Autumn Budget and Spring Statement to incentivise drivers with older diesel vehicles into newer ones, and this was a sentiment echoed by leaders at the conference. There is still a place for the modern diesel vehicle in a fleet – so long as it’s the right vehicle for the job.
David Martell from Chargemaster gave a wonderful speech about the EV charging network and the progress that the UK’s largest charging network provider is delivering, but still questions remain about how practical it is to charge an EV at home, particularly if you don’t have a driveway. Chargemaster predict that 50% of car registrations will be plug-in by 2027, meaning that the infrastructure behind the switch to electrification needs to accelerate massively for it be supported.
One thing that really stood out for me was how the range of EVs has improved massively, but as it stands, a modern diesel vehicle is still the fleet vehicle of choice.
Driving for work is one of the UK’s most dangerous jobs
Alison Moriaty, Fleet Risk and Compliance Manager at Skanska, made the statement that driving cars and HGVs on business is one of the biggest causes of workplace deaths, citing only deep sea fishing and mining as having more fatalities.
This is a sobering thought and one that really emphasises how important an employer’s duty of care is, whilst also highlighting the risks of ignoring your grey fleet. If you have employees who use their own vehicle for work, have you done the necessary checks to ensure they are safe and you are compliant?
Air quality is part of your Corporate Social Responsibility
Another statement from Dale Eynon that really resonated – it’s every company’s responsibility to tackle air quality by reducing their emissions output.
With new car CO2 emissions rising for the first time in 20 years, fleets should be reviewing their policies and looking to reduce the CO2 output of the models on offer to employees.
There is increasingly a great range of low CO2 vehicles on offer – whether that be diesel, petrol or hybrid – that attract lower BIK and VED rates. See our guide here on how to choose the right vehicle for your fleet.
It was a very informative conference and it was interesting to see what messages fleet managers were giving other fleet managers. That was the big thing: the advice being given out wasn’t done with a sales agenda in mind, it was shared experience from fleets that are facing the same challenges as other fleets across the country, and how best they were dealing with it and transitioning. It takes time and resource to move with the pace of change, and many of the discussion points raised were in the first stages of implementation.
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