Millenials, mobiles

and motorways

SEAT Alhambra, screen and smartphone

THIS is a time of year when many companies review their expenditure and plan for the coming year - or as far ahead as they feel they dare during a period which many still see as uncertain.

Brexit, the theatre of the US electoral nominations, a wavering pound and the shift from a consuming to a "sharing" economy creates an exciting but potentially volatile period.

Through all of this, companies need to make simple decisions around expenditure. How many employees? How many vehicles? How much office space?

Put together, these three represent the bulk of expenditure for businesses operating in the UK's largely service based economy.

Given the Office of National Statistics shows one in seven people working from home in 2014 - and around the same number self-employed - the answers to these questions may be much more complicated than 10 or even five years ago.

Whilst much is changing, motor transport is here to stay, though perhaps in new formats.

Company vehicles remain an essential business tool, as well as a useful way of attracting and retaining high quality employees.

In his recent Budget, the Chancellor committed significant new sums to developing the road network, including the widening of the M62 and the creation of other road links in Northern Britain, as well as a £50 million increase to the UK "Pothole Action Fund" to ensure roads are in good condition.

In addition, there is £15 million dedicated to developing a "connected" corridor between London and Dover, which is an important investment in the development of driverless vehicles in the UK.

Company car taxation is geared to encourage companies, and their employees, to select the most efficient cars.

This creates the rationale for more businesses to consider selecting ultra-low emission vehicles, including 100 per cent electric cars in the right circumstances.

Meanwhile, the assumption that millennials - people born after 1981 - are more interested in their tablets and mobiles than in taking to the road is proving to be unfounded.

According to US research organisation J D Power, millennials accounted for 28 per cent of new vehicle sales in the US in 2015, a significant jump from the previous year, and modern vehicles are now packed full of useful and interesting technology for this demographic.

In the UK, the fact that house prices in major cities have escalated, often excluding many from buying property, could be another factor in influencing millennials to drive.

Forced by property values to live in outlying areas or out of town where there are fewer public services, millennials may become more dependent on vehicle ownership than previous generations.

These factors mean that businesses employing and wishing to attract millennials should explore ways of providing them with access to a company vehicle as a way of increasing appeal whilst also providing financial flexibility and cost control for the business.

Whilst companies which are cash rich at this typical end of year period may think of buying vehicles, it is worth examining how vehicle leasing, often through contract hire, can provide greater choice and convenience both to the business and the employee.

These are cost effective two, three and four year options that require low input from the business in terms of administration and management, offer new, efficient and attractive vehicles, and also shield them from the risk of depreciation when the vehicle is sold on the unpredictable used vehicle market.

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