Corporate car sharing – the advantages and challenges
In cities across the world, car sharing programmes are becoming a popular way for people to better meet their mobility needs – and organisations are also realising the benefits.
There are two different routes businesses can take when implementing corporate car sharing schemes. One way is to use public car sharing operators that have rentable vehicles, usually in larger city centres. The other is to move part of their existing fleet over to a shared model, with employers often using technology to oversee the booking process.
If a driver needs a vehicle to go to a meeting, for example, they can reserve one from the shared pool for a predetermined number of hours or days, returning it after their trip when their allotted time period is over.
So what do businesses need to know before rolling out shared cars as part of their fleet? Here, we look at the advantages and challenges of implementing a car sharing programme.
Keener to be greener
One of the biggest positives of car sharing is that it can help improve a company’s green credentials.
If an employee doesn’t have 24/7 access to a vehicle, they are more likely to think about their journey options rather than automatically jumping in a car to make a trip. It can also mean they drive less, make fewer unnecessary journeys and help reduce congestion.
What’s more, car sharing can mean more employees have cost-effective access to electric vehicles, reducing emissions and improving their organisation’s carbon footprint.
Bottom line benefits
From fuel and maintenance to insurance and tax, owning or leasing vehicles can prove a considerable expense for employers. Businesses will often find shared car schemes to be cheaper, however, with fewer vehicles needed and less stood stationery, unused.
Where employers use well-known operators to provide the service, vehicles will often be rented per hour or day, with the fee including insurance, maintenance costs and, sometimes, fuel.
Advanced booking technology can also help to cut costs. If an employee is reserving a car, systems can inform them of other colleagues who are journeying to the same destination on the same day and suggest car sharing, reducing the number of vehicles needed and saving the business money.
Booking platforms can also offer companies a wealth of data to help them identify inefficiencies, such as cars that are under-utilised and no longer needed, alongside valuable insights into driver behaviour and transport needs.
Reduced grey fleet usage
For businesses, managing a grey fleet can be a challenging undertaking, with time, resource and cost implications.
These vehicles, which are privately owned or leased by employees, can pose a variety of problems, from poor maintenance resulting in increased downtime to high mileage reporting resulting in excessive reimbursement costs.
By encouraging employees to use shared cars, rather than their personal vehicle, the administration associated with running a grey fleet can be significantly reduced. What’s more, pool cars can reduce the number of insurance claims, with vehicles well-maintained and drivers invariably making safer driving choices when in a work vehicle.
An attractive employer
The company car has long proved an important recruitment and retention tool – and car sharing schemes can act in a similar vein.
For employees they offer a cheaper, convenient alternative to driving their own vehicle, and can offer a cost-effective route to driving an EV.
According to a global IBM survey, 71 per cent of employees and employment seekers said they viewed environmentally sustainable companies as more attractive employers, so corporate car sharing programmes can also help organisations demonstrate their commitment to reducing their carbon footprint.
Following the implementation of a corporate car sharing programme, some drivers can be overly eager to book vehicles for journeys that have not been confirmed.
Consequently, it is important to stress to employees to only reserve vehicles when they know their journey is going ahead and to cancel reservations where required. Failure to do so results in vehicles being paid-for but sat unused in the car park – an unnecessary cost burden.
At a scheme’s inception, it can be worth deploying a member of staff to oversee the booking system who confirm reservations.
Location, location, location
Where a proportion of a company’s fleet has been converted to a shared model, vehicles will usually be sited at the office premises or a nearby car park. In some cases, it may be difficult for employees to get to these locations to pick up or drop off the vehicle – especially if they work remotely.
Advance planning needed
Employees with company cars have the freedom to drive wherever they choose at a moment’s notice. With a car sharing programme, however, planning ahead is called for.
Ideally, drivers would book their vehicle in advance to ensure its availability. There are times, however, when last minute meetings arise. If all shared vehicles are reserved, businesses may end up having to cover the expense of public transport or taxi journeys, or the employee may not be able to attend the meeting.
If you have a number of shared cars available, the easiest way to manage bookings can be via an intelligent technology system, which can help the process run more efficiently. Such a solution can allow employees to reserve vehicles and access cars from smartphone apps, give businesses a 360-degree overview of vehicles, and offer automated billing to relieve administrative duties. Implementing such a system, however, means an additional cost to the business bottom line.
It is also important to consider vehicle usage. Should employees use their vehicles every day, then it may prove more expensive to operate shared vehicles than it would be to own or lease them.
No personal touch
A company car is essentially an extension of the employee’s workspace – it’s theirs to personalise and make their own, from saving their favourite radio stations to keeping the driver’s seat in their preferred position or having a fitted child’s seat.
With a shared car, it is a blank canvas and if an employee is renting a car every day, it may prove tedious to have to keep finding their perfect driving position and transferring their belongings in and out of the vehicle.