Fleet Assist expands plug-in vehicle SMR garage network capability to meet demand
The number of service outlets in Fleet Assist’s nationwide
network with the technical competency to handle the increasing number of
plug-in vehicles operated in the corporate sector has reached almost 100% with
the business at the forefront of being able to manage service, maintenance and
repair (SMR) on alternatively-fuelled vehicles.
Fleet Assist provides leading contract hire and leasing
companies and rental organisations with a network of more than 5,000 franchise
and independent service outlets which undertake SMR work on vehicles supplied
to customers across the UK.
Virtually all of the 4,500 franchise garages in the Fleet
Assist network now have the capability and technical knowledge to maintain
hybrid and plug-in vehicles, alongside more than 400 independent outlets, which
equates to approximately 80% of the network.
What’s more, as the plug-in vehicle fleet revolution
continue to gather pace Fleet Assist, the supply chain management specialist to
a significant number of the UK’s major contract hire and leasing companies
collectively operating almost 900,000 vehicles, will continue to review and
expand the network number of franchise and independent service outlets with
suitably trained technicians and the required diagnostic equipment.
Chris Crow, head of network and technical services, Fleet
Assist, said: “As vehicle technology evolves so do the requirements of an
aftersales network and how it delivers solutions to ensure costs are
controlled, whilst vehicle downtime is kept to a minimum.
“Government initiatives amplify the pressure on fleet
decision-makers and company car and van drivers to select ultra-low emission
vehicles. In the vanguard of that development are fleet companies supplying
hybrid, plug-in or pure electric vehicles.
“That presents fleet companies with new challenges in
ensuring their network of repairer garages, whether franchise or independent,
are appropriately equipped and have sufficient suitably trained mechanics to
safely maintain and carryout repairs on such vehicles as fleet volumes grow.
“Therefore, it is essential that Fleet Assist continues to
proactively manage its network and ensure it evolves and remains
fit-for-purpose to the total satisfaction of customers in a rapidly developing
new car and van market.”
In 2018 registrations of alternatively-fuelled cars are
almost 22% up on the first 10 months of last year, according to data from the
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, taking a near 6% market share.
With the government’s focus on improving air quality through
the take-up of alternatively fuelled vehicles, Mr Crow said: “As is the case
with conventional fossil powered vehicles, proactively managing the garage
network that fleet operators use for SMR work on car and vans - and a contract
hire and leasing company works with - is essential to effective and efficient
vehicle operations and cost-control. A one-size fits all solution is no longer
Fleet Assist works actively with motor manufacturers to
ensure the franchised garages on its network can undertake SMR work on hybrid
and plug-in vehicles and receives updates on dealer capabilities, as and when
Furthermore, some fleet operators also require access to
independent garages to undertake SMR work on fleet vehicles. Mr Crow said: “We
are actively working with the independent garages on our network, and a number
of industry associations, to ensure they are up to the challenge.
“These garages must have technically qualified mechanics
possessing the appropriate Institute of the Motor Industry technical
accreditation, or equivalent, to safely undertake the required SMR work on
these vehicles, outside of the franchised network.
“As technology progresses and the knowledge and diagnostic
equipment required to maintain these vehicles grows, we review the
qualifications held by all of our network independent garages to ensure they
remain current, along with equipment capability.”
Mr Crow added: “To ensure the network has sufficient
capacity to manage the peaks and troughs of SMR workflow and keep booking lead
times to a minimum, Fleet Assist regularly reviews the size of the garage
network. Therefore, as the volume of hybrid and plug-in vehicles on the roads
continues to rise, Fleet Assist will seek to expand the network of suitably
qualified and equipped garages, both franchise and independent.”