6 July 2015

Government must incentivise fleets to adopt new vehicle technology, says BVRLA

The government must introduce a range of incentives to promote fleet uptake of new automotive technology.

The call comes from the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) following a survey that revealed that almost all fleet members (97%) were excited about the changes new automotive technology would bring to the sector, but the majority (58%) said it was difficult to quantify the benefits.

The BVRLA wants the government to take a lead by mandating the use of potentially life-saving Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) equipped cars across its own fleet and promoting wider uptake through the use of tax and other incentives.

This year’s BVRLA’s Fleet Technology Survey collected the views of more than 150 fleet managers, rental operators and leasing companies. While one third (34%) claimed to be early adopters of new vehicle technology, more than half (58%) said they waited until they could demonstrate a clear return on investment.

Road safety emerged in the survey as a key theme. Autonomous driving and safety technologies were described as having one of the most positive impacts on the fleet industry, second only to ultra-low emission powertrains. Similarly, reduced accident rates were described as a key benefit of new technology, second only to lower transport costs.

Looking forward to 2020, respondents said that AEB and in-car video would be the most important safety technologies for fleets.

AEB uses technologies such as radar, lasers and optical sensors to identify other vehicles and in many cases pedestrians. It automatically applies the brakes if a driver does not respond in time to avoid or mitigate a collision. It is available on around a quarter of all new vehicles and is standard fit on more than one in ten.

AEB is widely regarded as one of the most important safety innovations to have emerged in recent years and has been recognised by the motor insurance research organisation Thatcham as well as the European New Car Assessment Programme safety performance assessment initiative.

New Department for Transport figures recently highlighted that 2014 produced the first increase in road casualties for 18 years, prompting the BVRLA to call for the government to take a more active role in promoting life-saving technology.

BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney said: ‘Motor insurers and safety assessors have recognised the importance of AEB, as has the fleet industry.

‘It is now time for the government to take a lead by mandating the use of AEB-equipped cars across its own fleet and promoting wider uptake through the use of tax and other incentives.

'A progressive tax regime has helped the fleet sector achieve huge cuts in CO2 emissions. With the right support it could deliver similar reductions in the number of people killed or injured in road accidents.’