How Will Now-Popular Take-Home Vehicle Policies Affect Fleets Going Forward?

Michael CarrSeptember 17, 2021

Take-home policies are a common consideration for fleet mangers of police departments, emergency services and taxi companies. There can be many benefits to keeping vehicles out on the road instead of parked in a company garage overnight, and can help employees save on both costs and time.

The benefits of take-home policies can be very subjective, however, with some departments opting to cut their programs drastically, and others increasing the amount of individually assigned vehicles.

What is a take-home vehicle policy?

Take-home policies allow employees to drive home the vehicle that they use for work at the end of the day, as opposed to leaving it in a company lot until the next shift. This is typically done not only as a benefit to the employee, but also to the company and public.

Because of this, companies must consider many different factors when deciding whether a take-home policy makes sense for their fleet, and for which specific employees. For starters, there could be limitations on how far away an employee can live to qualify for a take-home vehicle in order to control commuting costs and mileage.

The operational purpose should also be assessed in order to justify the risk and extra cost of employees taking vehicles home. For emergency services this could mean ease of responding to after-hours calls, and for police departments this could mean increased visibility and feeling of safety for residents. In these cases, the policy effectively benefits the employee, employer and public.

Are take-home policies right for your fleet?

In addition to industry-specific benefits that take-home policies might have for fleets, there are several ways managers can optimize fleet operations by giving employees ownership over their vehicles.

Extended vehicle lifespan

Often times with shared vehicles, they end up being passed from employee to employee for back-to-back shifts. This means vehicles can be running all day long and quickly accumulating wear and tear. When a North Carolina police department started assigning cars for individual use, however, they found that cars were lasting up to 150,000 miles before being retired, as opposed to the prior average of 100,000 miles.

Better maintained vehicles

One study done in Tacoma, Washington found that shared company vehicles lasted only 20-26 months on average, while assigned vehicles lasted up to 60 months. This huge difference is owed mostly to how differently vehicles are cared for when employees have a sense of ownership over them. Essentially, the longer an employee drives a vehicle, the better they know it and can quickly identify problems. Even the cleanliness of interiors improves drastically when employees feel responsibility for the vehicle. 

Saving employees time

A somewhat obvious, but significant, factor to consider when implementing a take-home policy is the simple fact of decreasing employees’ commuting time. The ability to drive directly to a job site, instead of driving to the vehicle’s location and dropping off your personal car, saves both time and fuel consumption.

Long-term results

Ultimately, what any fleet manager wants from any decision is positive results. Outfitting a department for a new take-home policy could mean a substantial upfront cost of acquiring more vehicles. Managers must look beyond this in order to evaluate the operational and cost benefits going forward.

Simple tools to help plan your take-home vehicle policy

While take-home vehicles can be beneficial in many ways, allowing for more than necessary can have the opposite effect. Due to this, managers should keep track of these vehicles daily, how they are being used, and whether employees are following the guidelines implied. Here are some take-home vehicle policy best practices.

1. Telematics

With take-home vehicles, thorough data collection is essential in order to weigh costs against benefits and calculate the cost to taxpayers in comparison with shared company vehicles. The ability to track vehicle mileage, wear and tear, and driver behavior is also key, and can be useful in identifying inappropriate vehicle use. Additionally, with vehicles spread out on the map, managers should be able to know instantly where their fleet is.

2. Policy and procedure

A thorough policy should be written and regularly updated to ensure that vehicles are being used in appropriate and cost-effective ways. Depending on a company’s budget, the amount of employees appointed vehicles could fluctuate. Other factors such as what employees are allowed to use vehicles for and who can ride along in the car must be considered in order to minimize liabilities and ensure that taxpayer dollars are being used properly.

Vehicles should also be strictly monitored in order to avoid misuse that can lead to vehicle degradation and additional expenses.

3. EV Charging

An electrified fleet calls for even more considerations when it comes to implementing a take-home policy. In this case, it must be ensured that employees have access to charging equipment, whether that be public charging stations near their homes, or having employees home fitted with charging facilities. This brings up further questions regarding where employees park, whether in a personal driveway, on the street, or in a garage, which would affect the possibility of charging infrastructure being installed.

What do take-home policies mean for your fleet?

In brief, take-home policies are not right for every fleet, and definitely not for every employee. Managers tread a fine line between policies that save time and money and boost employee morale, and ones that become excessive and wasteful. Ultimately, it comes down to carefully weighing the pros and cons, and justifying to taxpayers how their dollars are being used.

If you’re interested in learning more about the costs and benefits of your vehicle policy, schedule a demo of the Utilimarc platform with a member of our analytics team. 

Michael Carr

Michael Carr is an account manager at Utilimarc, previously attending Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. If you can't find him on a golf course, watching documentaries or a Formula One race, you can count on him being in the northern Midwest with a dog or two by his side. See more from Michael

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