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a big part to play in future developments. Rob Ingram, from Enterprise and National Car Rental, adds: “Many drivers experience new automotive technologies for the first time in rental vehicles. “The car rental industry will no doubt be an early adopter and will be able to help introduce autonomous driving technology to millions of consumers, just as we’ve done with anti-lock braking, stop-start technology, hybrid electric vehicles and other new technologies,” he points out.

Harnessing technology

With driverless cars not likely to become a practical option for business travellers to use for several years (if not longer), car rental firms are currently concentrating on more prosaic technological advancements such as improved booking and mobile systems, new partnerships with other transport providers and adding tools that

The data supplied by car rental firms will become even richer, moving from tracking systems to even include information such as driver fatigue levels and details on driver behaviour” provide enhanced data to corporate clients. Supplying clients with key information around their employees’ vehicle use and the emissions produced is an important element of car rental companies’ services. Europcar’s Clive Forsythe says: “We were the first company to introduce carbon emission and performance data by car group, allowing customers to make informed choices when selecting their vehicle. Europcar UK has publicly stated a commitment to moving its fleet to five per cent electric vehicles by 2020.” There is also an increasing awareness of duty of care concerns by car rental firms – something they are tackling by introducing new technology that can measure risk factors such as fleet age, maintenance standards and the mileage driven, as well as tracking systems. This data will only become richer over the next few years, says Hertz’s Richard 30

Bowden, and even include information on driver fatigue levels and detailed behaviour. “This will help corporate customers create personalised and smart policies but also dramatically increase driver safety.” he says. With so much focus on the future and the onset of major technological advances, it can be easy to forget about a more pressing question that’s nearly always on a travel buyer’s lips: how much is car rental actually going to cost this year? Carlson Wagonlit Travel and the GBTA (Global Business Travel Association) Foundation have predicted a “slight price hike” in average global car hire rates in 2018 as demand improves and rental companies “shift from a simple market-share focus toward profitability goals”. CWT suggests that buyers can mitigate these expected price increases by increasing leverage with car hire suppliers by “knowing your current global patterns, how costs are distributed and the global market place, including information about strong regional suppliers”. The car hire sector may be on the precipice of a fundamental technologydriven change in the way it operates but, just like every other aspect of business travel, prices will continue to be a key focus for buyers, particularly with more potential competition shaking up the ground transport sector.

[ IMPLEMENTING A CAR CLUB ] North Ayrshire Council began working with Enterprise Car Club in order to offer employees an alternative to using their own cars (the so-called grey fleet) for business travel trips. The scheme initially started with eight vehicles for council staff to use but this has now grown to a fleet of 14 cars, including three electric vehicles, after the number of users grew from 250 at the launch of the programme to more than 500 employees. The vehicles are clocking up a total of around 11,000 miles a month, which the council says has reduced CO2 emissions by 37% or 9.1 tonnes per year. The club operates under flexible rules allowing employees to take cars home overnight for early morning meetings and can also be taken back to base the following morning for meetings held late in the day. Councillor Jim Montgomerie says: “We were spending around £1.2million on business miles and that simply needed to change. The scheme is about changing the mindset of our staff and making it the norm for employees to book car club vehicles for meetings. “The car pool scheme saves the council money, reduces our carbon footprint and is really positive for staff. It allows them to leave their own car at home which takes away all the hassle of traffic and parking and minimises the wear and tear on their car.”

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com

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The Business Travel Magazine February/March 2018  

The multi-award-winning publication written and produced for bookers, buyers, arrangers and managers of business travel and meetings. This i...

The Business Travel Magazine February/March 2018  

The multi-award-winning publication written and produced for bookers, buyers, arrangers and managers of business travel and meetings. This i...