Features
19 Jan 16

Portugal: A severe look at the driver

Driver behaviour represent the element through which companies are most attempting to cut their fleet costs. But other options, such as car-sharing, have started to appear.

Portugal’s car fleet management market is changing. After a period of fleet renewal, where a tendency to wait has slightly increased the length of contracts and even led to cases of used vehicle rentals, the watchword now is to stop and analyse each fleet from zero.

The financial crisis has compelled suppliers to lower prices to the limit. There is now little room for bargaining with fleet managers and brand importers. The attempt to lower costs has gone in a different direction.

One of the methods being attempted to lower vehicle usage costs, where fuel price has a significant impact, has to do with drivers. The way they drive and the costs they generate, especially in distribution fleets, have been identified as one of the key points where improvements can be achieved. These can come in many ways. Firstly, and most importantly, fuel, where more efficient driving can result in 15% lower diesel consumption. Next come accidents. Incidents involving commercial fleets are common, and every time they occur they have an impact not just on the vehicle itself, but on the distribution route and on escalating insurance rates. Next, on the vehicles themselves, with the falling costs of repairs as well as operating costs.

Creating awareness


Fleet managers have been alert to this, promoting more awareness among their clients and even going so far as to offer efficient driving courses.

Additionally, with the concern over usage costs, this year fleets have been paying some attention to alternative engines. The government has introduced some tax incentives encouraging companies to purchase such vehicles. Some analyses have been conducted and two of the largest fleet management companies carried out studies, but fleet managers consider it too great a risk to take, and these measures have seen practically no effect. In this respect, it should be said that Portuguese companies normally see these types of vehicles as a way to affirm their environmental policy and not as a fleet option in itself.

 

Similarly to what has been happening in other European countries, in Portugal there has also been talk of alternative mobility for employees. The options are those known in every country, but implementing this type of measure is still far from being the norm. One of the obstacles is the poor communication between public entities, which could pave the way for a joint offer to all operators. Furthermore, many business centres in major cities are located outside the urban perimeter with few accessibility options other than automobiles.

Nonetheless, there is an attempt to introduce car-sharing systems in Lisbon and Porto, which have met with some success. But these rely mainly on small companies that consider them to be their potential fleet, and not as an alternative to an existing fleet.

 

Hugo Jorge

 

Image: The Portuguese government has introduced tax incentives encouraging companies to purchase alternative powertrain cars, but Portuguese companies see these types of cars as a way to affirm their environmental policy, not as a fleet option in itself.