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Business servicesManufacturer newsFleetprofileFunding methodsNews digestCar Recruitmentreviews"We are still collating the data but we believe this has had a big impact on fuel costs. Most of our vehicles are Ford, and Ford's data suggests a 14% cut in emissions between 70 and 62mph."Gateshead Council also downsized its fleet over the past year, from 450 to 380. Fleet manager Graham Telfer says doubling up vehicle purpose has been a major part of this. "We have dual purposed the meals-on-wheels vehicles to then go out with the borough wardens later in the day and during the night. So they are running 20 hours a day."Telfer also took advantage of the Low Carbon Vehicle Procurement Programme to buy electric Transits, which would have cost £59,000 if the council had had to meet the full conversion costs. "We only had to pay for the cost of a Transit plus a little; our risk was in committing to the technology. But the running costs make it a no-brainer," he said. "It costs us £5 per 30 miles for diesel. It's £2 for 90 miles with an electric vehicle."Telfer has also taken two electric cars, a Mitsubishi iMiev and a Nissan Leaf, into the fleet.Kwik-Fit has taken a different approach to cost-cutting. Rather than downsize its fleet of 200 Mercedes-Benz Sprinters, it has increased produc-tivity for the fleet by 20% through process engi-neering over the past two years.It has focused on better routing, again through process re-engineering rather than specific soft-ware. "We are looking closely at the equipment each van carries which has an impact on fuel economy," said Simon Lucas, oper-ations director for Kwik-Fit Fleet. "Many have to run compressors off the main engine, so there is a lot of idling. The alternative is to run them from an auxiliary engine but this tends to be less efficient. Therefore it's very important that we save fuel through reduced mileage wherever possible."He added: "We have looked at scheduling, having longer leads times for jobs - because the more notice you have, the easier it is to schedule efficiently - and picking up stock in batches for several jobs at once, rather than collecting parts as part of a single assignment. We also speed limit the vans."£2Running cost for an electric Transit to cover 90 miles'We are looking closely at the equipment each van carries which has an impact on economy'Simon Lucas, Kwik-Fit Fleet

Business servicesManufacturer newsFleetprofileFunding methodsNewsdigestCarRecruitmentreviewsVehicle acquisition Leasing v outright purchaseContract hire or outright purchase? Fleets decide.Ford claims a rise in leasing, although many fleets prefer to buy to mitigate risk and save money By Louise ColeThe key to effective vehicle acquisition is procure-ment might - quantity of vehicles is undoubtedly one of the strongest factors affecting price, whether you are leasing or buying outright. Police forces work collaboratively through the National Police Improvement Agency to purchase or lease vehicles en masse to ensure best value. Most outright purchase for the bulk of their fleet due to the arduous nature of the work and the uncertainty about whether vehicles like pursuit cars will make it through to end of life.However, across fleet there is a growing trend towards contract hire for both cars and vans. Ian Tillbrook, managing director at ING Car Lease, says around half of company cars and vans are currently outright or hire purchased. But he is seeing a clear move towards leasing, partly fuelled by a moved away from cash allowance schemes."We are seeing a large return from cash schemes back to contract hire," he says. "The hassle factor, cost of running a car and Duty of Care of the employer is behind this trend."According to Ford, 62% of corporate car and 71% of van purchases were via contract hire last year. "We have seen a trend in the increase of contract hire and leasing over the last decade," said a Ford spokesman."This has been driven by companies taking the cost off balance sheet to free up cash, the cost of money, better economies of scale and outsourcing of fleet management expertise." Leasing costs can be deducted straight from the bottom line, where capital expenditure must be written down over time. This may change if EU discussions about putting leased assets on to to the balance sheet ever appear as law.Royal Mail Group has 36,000 vehicles, including 31,000 LCVs, which run across its UK businesses. A spokesman said: "About half of our vehicles are Continues over'At present, our preferred method is finance leasing but we constantly review our options to ensure best value for money'Royal Mail spokesmanRoyal Mail owns outright about half of its vehicles