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Vehicle downtimeBalfour News digestBeattyThames WaterCar Recruitmentreviews'Moving to a solus Vauxhall deal was more cost effective and the best fit for the business'Michelle NasrBeing the UK's largest water and sewerage company also means covering a wide geographical area - 5,000 square miles across London and the Thames Valley. The other challenge is that, as a regulated busi-ness, Thames Water has to follow the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) procure-ment process. And then there are the unions to consider. "We're heavily unionised and work very much in partner-ship with them," Nasr says. "Our car policy, for example, is always worked through with them. It's quite a big change from working in an organisation where you just say 'right, we're going to do that'."Three years ago the car policy changed from a dual badge deal to a solus Vauxhall deal. "It was more cost effective and the best fit for the business," Nasr explains. The move brought an additional 16% discount off the purchase price of the vehicles. The van fleet is also predominantly Vauxhall. The diesel-only fleet is job-need with a minimum of 10,000 business miles a year.The benchmark car is an Astra 1.3 Ecoflex Exclusiv with the option to trade up to an Astra estate or down to Corsa. Employees who trade down are given an extra allowance. Managers are offered an Insignia. When the solus badge was introduced the cash allowance scheme (which was previously open only to managers) was extended and resulted in some people moving out of the car scheme. However, some employees have since returned to the car scheme.Now there are approximately 500 cash takers. HR monitors mileage through the expense system to check entitlement and drivers have to sign a permit to drive to confirm the vehicle is less than 10 years old, being properly maintained and insured for business use. The permits are renewed on a six-monthly basis and linked in with line managers doing employee appraisals. The fleet team perform random audits. Nasr is addressing the rising price of fuel by checking where drivers are filling up and making sure they use the company's preferred supplier. Telematics was introduced to the van fleet seven years ago, bringing a 5% fuel saving. An additional 5% saving was also achieved by addressing drivers speeding above 70mph. Speed limiters have also been fitted to vans. The next step is to look at speeding on specific roads and more efficient routing. Fleet profile 500 company cars, 1,455 light commercial vehicles, 45 HGVs, plus 300 plantPreferred funding method outright purchaseReplacement cycle three years for cars, five years for vansAverage mileage 25,000 (business and private) for cars, 15,000 for vans (business)Average CO2 emissions 125g/kmFleet software TranmanThames Water factfileContinued

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