The event took place at the ArtNorblin theatre, part of the Norblin complex of post-industrial buildings that will be undergoing an intriguing revitalisation process.
Many companies do not look too closely at the costs of running a fleet of company cars. This area of business operations is ripe for optimisation. But change is happening – as evidenced by Google’s driverless cars, ride-sharing apps, Big Data and Uber – and the financial imperative of managing fleets well is becoming more acute as costs come under ever-greater scrutiny. The risks of bad driving, which feed through into higher insurance premiums, can be reduced through telemetry - in-car black boxes. The cost of ownership of fleets can be optimised through better financing solutions.
A company car is still seen as a status symbol in Poland, rather than a corporate tool. Is this changing as the Millennials generation begins to enter the labour market? What are the prospects for the future of the company car?
The meeting HR and fleet managers, financial directors and other senior staff concerned with car fleets, looks at how the operational costs of a company's fleet can be optimised to reflect its needs.
Paul Gogolinski of Total Fleet Management looked at best practice in how companies manage their fleets, explaining current trends towards mobility solutions, and how to optimise fleet management. The most important thing that companies with car fleets need to have in place is a car policy, he said, that sets out the principals of using the company car as well as acceptable and unacceptable behaviour behind the wheel. Given that the average cost per incident such as a typical car crash is estimated at 35,000 złotys, including time off work and completing all the formalities, the savings that companies can make by identifying risk and managing it are significant. Mr Gogolinski talked about the role of big data in this which among other sources, is collected via GPS from in-car sensors.
Jarosław Szczepaniak, from Bank Pekao Leasing considered the options of fleet finance, from outright purchase to hire and leasing and compared the typical costs. He stressed the difference between the car as a tool for mobile staff such as sales people, and the car as a form of incentive for senior management. A company car is not an investment, he said, merely a rapidly depreciating asset.
Hubert Kowalewski from Donoria, an insurance broker, explained how fleet insurance premiums can be lowered through better cooperation with the broker. The partnership approach allows for profits – or losses – to be shared between the company and the insurer. Improving safety is the main way. Although company cars represent only 5% of the cars in Poland, they are involved in 33% of the accidents in the country. He also stressed the importance of black boxes that gather data about how drivers drive – in particular how rapidly they accelerate and brake, and how fast they go.
The three speakers were joined by Małgorzata Samborska, tax director at Grant Thornton, for a panel discussion. The first topic that raised much interest among participants was the tax treatment of the private use of company cars. The current two-step lump-sum approach is relatively easy to administer, but there is no clear ruling on whether or not this includes the VAT on fuel or not. Pool cars, which are not to be used privately, are subject to abuse, and that abuse can be reported to the tax authorities by disgruntled employees (or former employees). Lack of clarity on these points makes life difficult for fleet administrators.
Employees feel strongly about their company cars, and taking away or reducing benefits – or indeed taxing those benefits is always unpopular with them, was an observation from the panellists.
The new-generation Land-Rover Discovery was parked outside the venue, giving delegates a chance to see the latest version of a sports-utility vehicle that’s increasingly popular with senior management. For a test drive, please contact Robert Glegoła, fleet & business manager, British Automotive Polish S.A.