Trevor Collett | Apr 18, 2016

Australia’s vehicle fleet managers appear to be under the thumb of company bean counters when it comes to making purchasing decisions, with price considered ahead of safety and environmental factors.

Those are the findings of a new survey, which asked fleet managers questions relating to safety, price and a vehicle’s ‘green’ credentials relating to purchase decisions.

Fleetcare conducted the survey, which found that while organisations would like to be greener and safer on the nation’s roads, vehicle prices often overruled these ambitions.

While 93 percent of managers surveyed believed their company upheld policies relating to workplace safety, only 37 percent said staff were restricted to using vehicles with a 4- or 5-star ANCAP safety rating (5 being the maximum safety rating offered by ANCAP).

Further, 29 percent of respondents said their organisation would not deny an employee their choice of vehicle based on safety concerns.

Price premiums for hybrid vehicles meant few are getting past the approval process from the accounts department, with the survey finding just 16 percent of fleet managers were encouraged to purchase the lower-emission vehicles.

In fact, 38 percent of respondents disagreed with the statement ‘we strongly encourage all employees to drive hybrid vehicles to contain our organisation’s carbon footprint’.

Despite these results, 65 percent said their organisation “publicly stated a high level of commitment to environmentally sustainable policies” while 50 percent agreed with the statement ‘the environmental impact of vehicles comes second to cost and/or other considerations.’

While a dollar figure for vehicle emissions can’t be measured for corporations, fuel consumption can be - and this is reflected, to a degree, in vehicle choices for some organisations.

Around 55 percent of fleet managers said their organisation monitors fuel consumption ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ closely, and 47 percent reported that they were aware of their vehicle’s official fuel figures.

Surprisingly, 86 percent then went on to report that actual fuel consumption ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ closely matched official claimed figures. From the remainder, 60 percent said they didn’t believe official figures could be replicated in the ‘real world’, and 33 percent said company staff were not driving efficiently.

“Our survey reflects the pragmatism of the corporate sector,” Fleetcare CEO, Nigel Malcolm, said.

“Organisations want to do the right thing, but it has to be affordable. Fortunately, advances in technology are seeing dramatic improvements in both safety and environmental performance, and cost barriers are reducing the whole time.”

The Fleetcare Vehicle Managers’ Survey involved 250 fleet managers.

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