Moving on up: Company car drivers focused on the next new model

  • Daydreaming outweighs driving for many company car drivers
  • Most enjoyment found during selection, not delivery
  • Significant number of drivers decide before even trying options

Drivers dream about their next car when receiving their new one

Fleet: Driver in association with Sewell's Research & Insight has revealed the habits of company car drivers. Despite many claiming to know what they want in advance, the majority of drivers make their final choice at the last minute - providing ample opportunity for manufacturers to impress in the showroom.

A vital part of the benefits package for many employers and employees, the perception of the company car as an enjoyable benefit is surprisingly wide of the mark for many fleet buyers, with few feeling special and only 34% enjoying the interaction stage of visiting dealers or booking a test drive.

Remarkably, more than one in three - 35% - of drivers say they have made a decision before visiting a franchised dealer, and 40% have already made up their minds before a test drive.

Even that crucial step of visitng the manufacturer's website has more to do with refining and optimising the specification of a chosen model, rather than exploring the full range.

Reviews, peer pressure and influencers

Rather than the traditional tactile approach of visiting dealers, test-driving and poring through brochures, their decisions are influenced heavily by online reviews, social media, work colleagues and especially family considerations.

Such easily-accessed influences on the buying decision are fed by the enjoyment of the early stages of the process. Around 42% of company car drivers look forward to the active consideration phase of choosing a new company car, and a similar number enjoy this part.

Fleet managers are particularly influential in the early stage of decision making for drivers of mainstream, volume manufacturer brands, but at the business end of proceedings it’s line managers and senior management who are most heavily involved, eclipsing the fleet department.

Mail order car buyers can still be won over

Although it seems many company car drivers are making decisions purely from the fleet list and reviews, the majority - 60% - admit to changing their minds at the last minute. The difficulty faced by manufacturers in attracting attention during the early stages of decision making can potentially be overcome during the dealer/showroom visit stage.

For manufacturers, this means that even for fleet and contract buyers, that showroom experience is of vital importance. As a driver, it's worth seeking out local dealers for your chosen car to gauge the support and service experience as well as the car itself.

Larger fleets with over 250 employees also encounter greater user contribution; half of the surveyed company car drivers opted to pay more for a higher or different specification of car to the fleet offerings.

Fleet Driver results were supported by 6 focus groups of company car drivers of over 50 cars. 1,000 online interviews amongst user choosers in the market for a new company car and over 200 interviews amongst company car drivers experiences of manufacturer websites.