Is vehicle security still important for drivers and fleet managers?
Written by: Matthew Freeman
Vehicle crime has been in decline since the 1990s. So is vehicle security still an important consideration for drivers and fleet managers, or is this something we now take for granted?
The company car is an asset, albeit a depreciating one, and it makes sense to ensure your assets are secure.
As with property thefts, it helps to make a criminal’s ‘job’ as difficult as possible – these are usually crimes of opportunity, so hiding away valuables like laptops and satnavs and having robust security reduces the risk.
In terms of residual values, there is an assumption that all cars are pretty secure today, and that central locking is standard across the market, so I don’t think it figures that much in RV calculations. Rather it’s the perception that a vehicle is not vulnerable to theft that should appeal to fleet managers and used buyers.
For the future buyer of a fleet vehicle it’s an important issue. If it’s your money you’re spending security is an important issue – it’s your car and you want to keep it that way!
It’s interesting that for many manufacturers, security seems to be a secondary issue on their smaller and cheaper models, with alarms and even remote locking being offered as an option on entry-level vehicles. Of course manufacturers are known to want to move people up to better equipped and more profitable models, so there’s a certain element of tactical specification here, designed to move people up the range.
I feel that robust security should be fitted across the range, as it underlines the manufacturer’s commitment to the driver – both of the vehicle’s new and the used buyer - and makes it more attractive to them. Given the downsizing and downshifting trends of the past few years, skimping on security because a vehicle is seen as ‘cheap’ seems like false economy, it’s certainly less attractive when higher spec models are so difficult to steal.
An interesting area to watch is the growth of telematics. The widespread rollout of telematics (‘black box’) systems to passenger cars has the potential to improve the recovery of stolen vehicles. Only around half of stolen cars are recovered, so being able to locate the vehicle would significantly improve this. Many fleet managers are already familiar with this technology through its use in CV fleets, so this is an area where fleets could be in the vanguard.
Of course there are people who are uncomfortable with giving away what they consider to be private information, but many of us are now so used to trading information on the web, in return for free services like Google or for help navigating sites (like Amazon’s recommendations system) that resistance to this is falling.
From the fleet managers’ point of view, investing in this technology would have benefits beyond the ownership cycle of the vehicle: for future buyers these would be desirable, as insurance companies are already running programmes where premiums are lower in return for using this technology, so we could see increased demand and thus better residuals.
Matt Freeman, CAP Consulting Specialist