Fleet operators in the construction sector may well be missing out on significant opportunities for “rightsizing” their light commercial vehicles (LCVs), according to new research conducted by Arval – the vehicle leasing and fleet management specialist.
For the uninitiated, rightsizing refers to a cost-effective trend wherein fleet operators closely match their payload needs to a specific model of vehicle. The benefits are many; rightsizing could improve fuel efficiency, for instance, or markedly reduce environmental impacts.
And yet, in its 2017 Corporate Vehicle Observatory Barometer, Arval found that the overwhelming majority (83%) of fleet operators that acquired a new LCV over the past 12 months replaced it with one the same size.
In total, 8% of survey respondents chose a larger LCV, while 7% elected for a smaller vehicle. According to Arval, these figures fall well below the level one would expect from a typical fleet optimisation consultancy exercise. All of which begs the question, are fleet operators aware of the savings they could be making?
“Model selection is probably the most important van-related decision a business can make,” said Shaun Sadlier, Head of Arval’s Corporate Vehicle Observatory in the UK. “Having a vehicle that closely meets your needs can make a huge difference to fleet costs and efficiency, and the rapid proliferation of different van designs and payloads that are now available means it is possible to identify models to fit almost any fleet profile.
“However, this research indicates that the vast majority of fleets are adopting a ‘same again’ policy to van selection, almost irrespective of fleet size, and foregoing the potential whole life cost savings in areas such as fuel and tyres that “rightsizing” can deliver.”
According to Mr Sadlier, the benefits of rightsizing – for construction in particular – are plain to see: “Imagine that you have an LCV fleet for estates and building maintenance operating across the UK. They are using long wheelbase Transit panel vans – a vehicle they buy habitually – and carrying tools and materials that will cover a wide range of needs. However, a large proportion of these are hardly ever needed.
“The solution could be to switch the drivers into smaller Transit Connects, which are easier to drive and use every day because of their compact dimensions, while minimising the amount of material and equipment carried. Anything else needed could be supplied on an “as-needed” basis by post or courier. This significantly reduces costs because these vans use less fuel and are cheaper to maintain.”