With the public becoming increasingly aware of vehicle emissions, air quality, traffic congestion and road safety, the pressure is on for fleet decision-makers to maintain a responsible corporate image while continuing to chase the age-old desire to reduce cost and improve productivity. Upgrading vehicles in size to create and run a more flexible, socio-economically friendly fleet is becoming a more popular option but, says Venson Automotive Solution, it has it challenges.
From driver recruitment, vehicle and company compliance, to licences and vehicle complexity, moving up to commercial vehicles beyond 3.5t larger (3.5t+) are just some of the complexities involved in upsizing. However, a new free white paper from Venson aims to address these challenges and make the upsizing process easier by outlining the positives, negatives and key details for consideration.
Danielle Tilley, Business Development Director for Venson comments: “There are huge benefits to be had from upsizing. For example an average large delivery van can carry a load weighing 1,000 to 1,800kg, yet a 7.5 GVW truck can manage 3,000 to 4,500kg, a two to threefold increase, meaning the potential to run two less vehicles to carry out a similar workload is a viable option. When you factor in a 16-tonne GVW rigid trucks’ footprint isn’t usually vastly different to a 7.5 tonne truck, then you start to tick the social responsibility box too.”
However most standard passenger car driver licences only entitle their holders to drive vans up to 3.5-tonnes GVW, and fresh challenges present themselves when moving up to larger and more complex vans or light and heavy trucks; changes to the licensing system introduced in 1997 means that a driver must be in possession of a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) Class 2 licence to drive a 7.5-tonne GVW truck.
Danielle Tilley continues: “Once fleet drivers have their Class 2, what’s stopping a further increase in vehicle size if its fits with your company’s business model? A driver with a Class 2 licence can drive any rigid truck way beyond 7.5 tonnes.
“Fleet decision-makers need to be thinking ahead. With these unprecedented times changing the way many businesses operate, there are new opportunities to be had; while it may not fit every business model, upsizing can reduce costs and improve productivity. Furthermore, the socio-economic aspect of an upsize can give a competitive edge by demonstrating a responsible corporate image. Fleet managers shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by the process; with careful guidance and planning, and strategic thinking, evolving a fleet can be done smoothly and efficiently.”
Venson Automotive Solutions white paper, Operating Commercial Vehicles Beyond 3.5t GVW covers the three major areas of the upsizing process, Personnel considerations, Preparing your business and Vehicles, and includes a handy expansion planning checklist for fleet managers.
Venson Automotive Solutions’ checklist to planning and expanding a fleet beyond a 3.5t GVW
- Lay out key requirements and ensure clear reasoning as to why new vehicles are required and what they’ll allow your company to achieve.
- Get the right administration people and drivers in place by re-training current staff or recruiting new staff.
- Carefully research the best base vehicle to suit the new needs. Considerations should include availability, list price, maintenance facility location, projected running costs and suitability for intended role.
- Body and Equipment – Are your needs met by off-the-shelf conversions? If not, your fleet management provider can help with defining a vehicle specification and sourcing a reputable bodybuilder.
- Will any of these vehicles fall under company vehicle tax regulations for your staff?
- Understand impact on operating base, is it already appropriate or is a move required?
- Decide on the preferred method of financing to suit your company needs with the help of external experts and your own accounting.
- Reporting – Ensure that any systems for vehicle and driver reporting are in place and a team member is empowered to carry this out as part of their daily routine.
- Maintenance – It is vital that a clear and well-managed maintenance plan is put in place and adhered to.
- Management – As the jobs and vehicles become more complex, so does the task of managing them, and their drivers. Ensuring clarity with regards responsibilities is paramount.
- Compliance – Driver, vehicle, licences, ancillary equipment and operating base all have to be compliant with the laws of the road and the land.