Fleet managers warned against short-term thinking

Fleets have been warned against buying company cars that have had their safety devices removed from their specification because of the global semiconductor shortages.

The Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP) believes fleet managers need to consider issues such as ethics, risk management and future residual values before making this choice.

Paul Hollick, AFP chair said: “We appreciate that the semiconductor shortage is leaving manufacturers with some tough production decisions to make and some have decided to delete what might be described as non-core safety equipment such as lane departure warning and rear parking sensors.

“Our view is that fleets should think carefully before buying these vehicles. From a risk management point of view, there is a moral and potentially also a legal issue in terms of operating some vehicles that are known to be potentially less safe than would normally be the case.

“Similarly, although safety equipment has not historically had a significant effect on vehicle residual values, the trade will know that these are ‘decontented’ cars and are likely to price them accordingly in three or four years at disposal time. The impact on overall operating costs is difficult to assess.”

He continued: “There are predictable problems such as ensuring that cars and vans that are being operated for longer are maintained to a level that ensures they remain fit for purpose. This is relatively simple but can be expensive and does require a lot of attention to detail.

“However, probably the most frustrating issues are the delays that are being caused to fleet electrification programmes. There are relatively large numbers of drivers with an EV on order who are facing the prospect of driving their existing diesel for another six-12 months.

“Not only is there annoyance at the enthusiasm for EV adoption that exists being hindered but the practical fact that much higher benefit-in-kind taxation bills are being paid for much longer than expected. Additionally, many of these new EVs will now have life cycles that end beyond the current benefit-in-kind taxation tables, which adds a further layer of uncertainty.”