BT Fleet Solutions and the AA celebrate 30-year collaboration with ‘Future of Transport’ conference
- Event took place at AA’s flagship Oldbury training centre on 9th April 2019
- Featured expert discussions on impact of alternative fuels, connected cars and legislation on UK fleets and businesses
- New five-year contract signed between AA and BT Fleet Solutions.
BT Fleet Solutions and the AA celebrated almost three decades of partnership with a mini conference at the AA’s flagship training centre and conference facility in Oldbury, marking the signing of a new five-year contract between the two brands.
The event included a discussion of findings from the AA and BT Fleet Solutions’ 2018/19 Operational Fleet Report, which reported high levels of frustration with ‘anti-diesel rhetoric’ among managers. The report also explored the future of transport, such as alternative fuels, and autonomous & connected vehicles.
The next five years
The report, released at the end of 2018, found that more than one third of fleet managers expect to be using electric vehicles within the next five years. However, the majority doubt the sustainability of such models for long-haul journeys or when transporting heavy goods. Instead, respondents stated that they see cleaner diesel vehicles as a means of improving air quality in the UK’s cities.
Using the 2018/19 report as a springboard, a panel of experts led by motoring columnist and leading low carbon, circular economy and sustainability expert John Curtis, discussed the fleet industry’s adoption of alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFV). Other topics included the impact of future fuels on fleets, as well as how larger vehicles with typically heavier payloads, such as vans and HGVs, will need to adapt over the next five years.
Panel members included Edmund King, AA President; Stuart Thomas, Director of Fleet and SME Services, the AA; Henry Brace, Managing Director, BT Fleet Solutions; Gary Harrison, Head of Engineering at BT Fleet Solutions; and Beth Dawson, Major Projects Manager at Fuel Cell Systems.
The past three decades
The event also looked back over the decades-long relationship between the AA and BT, who have worked closely together since 1990, when BT appointed the AA to manage its HGV vehicles. In 2005, the contract was extended to cover the LCV fleet while, in 2003, the AA was BT Fleet Solutions’ first external customer. The relationship has grown from initial maintenance on the AA recovery fleet to service, maintenance and repair on the 3000+ AA yellow resources.
The AA provides a wide range of additional products to assist the 80,000 vehicles that BT Fleet Solutions maintains, including: Fuel Assist, which provides restorative services after incorrect fuelling and Key Assist – which provides mobile key cutting and reprogramming services.
As the UK’s most trusted brand and biggest breakdown provider, the AA relies on BT Fleet Solutions to provide fleet management and maintenance services for around 3,000 breakdown and recovery vehicles. BT Fleet Solutions carries out 40,000 service and repairs for the AA every year, across 65 dedicated garages. The AA also has access to BT Fleet Solutions’ network of external contractors and specialist repair centres, along with 18 additional strategically located garages and servicing facilities including access outside of normal working hours.
Working together the businesses deliver a mutually beneficial ‘Best in Class’ service
Edmund King OBE, AA President, said: “It’s a real privilege to celebrate such a long-standing relationship. Our values are closely aligned with those of BT Fleet Solutions, and we’ve achieved some significant milestones over our 30-year history. We look forward to even greater collaboration over the coming decades to deliver further enhanced services for our mutual customer base.”
Stuart Thomas, Director of Fleet and SME Services, the AA, added: “The AA and BT Fleet Solutions teams have a strong track record of delivering innovation that makes a tangible difference to our end users. We’re thrilled that everyone’s hard work and due diligence has paid off with the decision to renew the relationship for another five years.”
Henry Brace, Managing Director of BT Fleet Solutions, commented: “Over the past three decades, BT and the AA have been at the forefront of every major change within the fleet and breakdown sectors. Our joint reputation for high levels of customer service has certainly paid dividends with our mutual customer base. Long may our collaboration continue.”
The panel considered the current ‘carrot and stick’ engagement incentive versus legislation, strategy. London’s Ultra-Low Emissions Zones (ULEZ) came into effect on 8th April this year, with other major cities expected to follow shortly. The emission reduction scheme currently affects all non-resident drivers travelling through the central London area. The panel considered how best to incentivise the owners of the approximately 80 per cent of vans currently on the UK’s roads which are thought to be non-ULEZ compliant.
Grants and scrappage schemes have been put into place to support larger fleets who are understandably worried about the cost and business impact of upgrading fleets to ULEZ-compliant vehicles. Initial forecasts predict that the costs levied on non-compliant firms, particularly small firms with five non-compliant lorries or vans, could equate to more than 40 per cent of annual turnover, according to the FTA (Freight Transport Association).
The panel agreed that, as well as monetary incentives, more education is needed to encourage fleet managers to make the switch from diesel – which remains the fuel of choice for most.