A Study of the Decision-making Behaviour of Fleet Managers in Relation to Electric Vehicles



A Study of the Decision-making Behaviour of Fleet Managers in Relation to Electric Vehicles

Authors

R Hutchins, E Delmonte, TRL, UK

Description

In order to expand on the limited existing research base, and to investigate fleet managers current purchase behaviours and perceptions of electric vehicles, structured telephone interviews were conducted with 20 fleet managers.

Abstract

Between 2005 and 2008 fleet vehicles made up 58% of new car purchases in the UK car market (DfT 2010). However, fleet vehicle purchasing behaviour is an area in which little research has been undertaken. While we know that private consumers' vehicle purchasing decisions are driven by socio-demographic factors such as attitudes, personality, lifestyle, and emotional attachment, there is a limited understanding of the decision-making processes involved in purchasing vehicle fleets. This is particularly true in relation to electric vehicles (e.g. Figliozzi et al 2011).

Research suggests that fleet managers place high importance on a vehicle's whole life cost and are highly conscious of available financial incentives (e.g. Government grants) (Lane & Potter 2007). Lane (2005) conducted a study into fleet managers' economic purchase priorities and identified some key economic factors that are considered by fleet managers when making purchasing decisions. These include: total cost of ownership; capital cost; running costs; residual values; tax and Government incentives. Other important factors found to influence fleet purchasers include company image, vehicle reliability and maintenance.

In order to expand on the limited existing research base, and to investigate fleet managers current purchase behaviours and perceptions of electric vehicles, structured telephone interviews were conducted with 20 fleet managers representing a variety of industry sectors and fleet sizes. The work was conducted as part of a larger study of consumer attitudes towards electric vehicles (EVs). An information sheet was provided to participants prior to the interview to ensure that they had a basic understanding of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs)- collectively 'EVs' - and how they compare to traditional vehicles.

Several different approaches were described for fleet decision-making, ranging from formal to informal, with varying levels of autonomy and involving a variety of personnel. The sample mapped well onto the categorisation of decision-making structures proposed by Nesbitt and Sperling (2001). The amount of choice that fleet managers had over the allocation of fleet vehicles also varied, with some having full control and prescribing exactly which makes and models would be allocated to the fleet, while others had less control and felt that drivers had too much freedom when choosing their fleet vehicle. This suggests that EV marketing strategies will need to be targeted towards the different structures of decision making found within organisations.

The amount of choice that fleet managers had over the allocation of fleet vehicles also varied, with some having full control and prescribing exactly which makes and models would be allocated to the fleet, while others had less control and felt that drivers had too much freedom when choosing their fleet vehicle. This suggests that EV marketing strategies will need to be targeted towards the different structures of decision making found within organisations.

Publisher

Association for European Transport