Almost one in five fleets (18%) have seen a rise in car and van downtime during the last 12-18 months, new research from Arval shows.

Of those, almost six out of 10 (59%) have seen an increase of more than a month and more than half (52%) have subsequently been trying to alleviate the problem by switching to manufacturers who can offer better parts supply.

These figures are taken from the 2024 Arval Mobility Observatory Fleet and Mobility Barometer, which questioned 8,605 businesses in 30 countries about their vehicle operations.

Shaun Sadlier, Head of Arval Mobility Observatory in the UK, said: “There’s at least a couple of convergent trends impacting on fleets here. One is that because new cars and vans have been difficult to get hold of since the pandemic, most businesses are now operating older vehicles that inevitably tend to require much more maintenance and repair.

“The other is that alongside new vehicle shortages, many parts have also been in short supply, although the picture is not consistent across all manufacturers and models.

“All of this has added up to a widespread increase in downtime for fleets and, to be honest, our only surprise from the research is that just 18% say they are affected. Our impression is that the problem is probably more prevalent.”

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Shaun said that it was interesting to see the range of solutions that the Arval Mobility Observatory Barometer showed fleets were adopting as a result of the increased downtime reported.

“Probably the most noteworthy is that more than half of fleets affected (52%) are now choosing vehicles at least partially on the basis of parts availability. In the past, the supply of spares has almost always been treated as a given, so this is something of a shift.

“However, we are also seeing others look to more traditional solutions, such as pool and daily rental vehicles, or simply switching their service and maintenance suppliers in an effort to achieve better results.”

While the situation was slowly improving, issues were likely to perist for some time to come, Shaun added.

“While new vehicle supply is much better with further gains to come, it’s unlikely that there will be a dramatic reduction in the average age of fleet cars and vans for some time. It simply takes a while to reverse a major trend such as this.

“Also, while parts supply is improving overall, there remain problematic areas, especially around certain types of part and certain manufacturers, and it is difficult to say when these will be resolved.”