Almost three quarters of fleets (73%) expect their fleet size to stay the same or decrease, according to the 2022 Arval Mobility Observatory Barometer.
However, more than one in four respondents (27%) are predicting growth in the number of vehicles they operate during the next three years.
The overwhelming reason cited for growth by fleet decision-makers surveyed is that their company is expanding (mentioned by 81%), but human resource-related needs (21%) and plans to offer vehicles to employees without a company car (21%) are also major factors.
Shaun Sadlier, head of Arval Mobility Observatory in the UK, said: “A net 27% of organisations predicting expansion of their fleet operations is a strong indication of confidence in the sector.”
Last year, its figures suggested 29% of respondents were expecting to grow their fleet operations, which was up on the 21% recorded in 2020.
The new figures for this year suggest businesses expect a strong rebound in 2022, says Sadlier.
“One of the most surprising findings in last year’s research was the high degree of optimism surrounding future fleet growth, despite the potential impact of Covid-19 and lockdowns at that time,” he said.
“Even though we are now emerging from the pandemic, this year brings a different set of risks – ranging from conflict to a rapidly rising cost of living – but fleets still remain notably positive about the future.”
The latest research shows that confidence about growth is also biased towards smaller companies, with a 36% of those with fewer than 10 employees predicting growth, compared to 15% of those with more than 1,000.
“In 2021, it was larger organisations which tended to foresee significant expansion,” explained Sadlier. “This year’s change may be because smaller companies have been able to adapt rapidly to changing conditions, while larger organisations are still defining their policies post-Covid, such as the impact of hybrid working and adding sustainable mobility solutions.
“However, the actual reasons for optimism across all company sizes are relatively straightforward – organisations are increasing in size, they need to attract and retain staff, and want or need to offer cars to a wider range of employees.”
Factors that are Covid-related, such as providing a safe commute to work, are conversely falling away as the threat is perceived to be receding.
Sadlier concluded: “One central fact is clear, as we emerge from the pandemic, company cars and vans remain core to business growth strategies moving forward.”