SME FLEETS are facing both a shortage of replacement vehicles, thanks to the long lead times from the semiconductor shortage, and at the same time juggling increased maintenance schedules as cars and vans go way beyond their projected lifecycles.
It means a complex picture of extended rentals and increased maintenance work (referred to as SMR – service, maintenance and repair) as managers of small fleets try to balance costs with new car deliveries, often stretching to 12 months and more.
According to automotive service organisation, Cox Automotive:
New vehicle supply constraints remain nearly as prevalent as they were a year ago, with the hopes of semiconductor and material shortages improving in the early parts of 2022 rapidly falling away. While some green shoots within the supply chain are starting to appear, we are unlikely to see much improvement until at least early 2023.
Auto Focus magazine issue four 2022
In addition there’s little in the way of flexirental availability as the rental companies are suffering the same vehicle availability issues coupled with high demand.
Jess Jones, the Director for National Fleets at the tyre and maintenance provider, ATS Euromaster, noted:
With lead times pushing out further and further, fleets are running vehicles for longer, which is impacting SMR budgets. It’s not as if fleets can turn to rental for new cars since the rental companies are also short of vehicles having de-fleeted during Covid lockdowns.
What this means is a renewed focus on managing out maintenance budgets, particularly as many vehicles will require additional MOTs not originally envisaged at the commencement of the vehicle’s lifecycle.
Jones says that, as a result, informal rentals are many, while new approaches to SMR delivery are being actively considered.
Many leasing companies send their customers to approved dealerships for servicing, although independent maintenance providers, such as ATS Euromaster, provide an equally thorough mechanical service at a more cost-effective option. Perhaps as important, we are also a one-stop-shop.
For example, if a vehicle comes in for an MOT but after inspection requires new brakes to be roadworthy, we can get the appropriate authorisation to carry out the remedial work. This is particularly important for LCV fleets that need to keep downtime to a minimum. It helps with general fleet efficiency.