CAR manufacturers are cutting back on a number of electronic features as the global shortage of semiconductors continues to impact automotive production.
The Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP) has warned companies to think carefully before buying or leasing new vehicles that have had safety devices removed from their specification because of the shortage.
The organisation says that there are a number of issues to be considered – from ethics to risk management responsibilities to future residual values.
Paul Hollick, AFP, chair, said: “We appreciate that the semiconductor shortage is leaving manufacturers with some tough production decisions to make and some have decided to delete what might be described as non-core safety equipment such as lane departure warning and rear parking sensors.
“Our view is that fleets should think carefully before buying these vehicles. From a risk management point of view, there is a moral and potentially also a legal issue in terms of operating some vehicles that are known to be potentially less safe than would normally be the case.
“Similarly, although safety equipment has not historically had a significant effect on vehicle residual values, the trade will know that these are ‘decontented’ cars and are likely to price them according in three or four years at disposal time. The impact on overall operating costs is difficult to assess.”
Hollick added that ongoing vehicle shortages caused by the semiconductor shortage were prompting a range of issues for fleets.
“There are predictable problems such as ensuring that cars and vans that are being operated for longer are maintained to a level that ensures they remain fit for purpose. This is relatively simple but can be expensive and does require a lot of attention to detail.
“However, probably the most frustrating issues are the delays that are being caused to fleet electrification programmes. There are relatively large numbers of drivers with an EV on order who are facing the prospect of driving their existing diesel for another 6-12 months.
“Not only is there annoyance at the enthusiasm for EV adoption that exists being hindered but the practical fact that much higher benefit-in-kind taxation bills are being paid for much longer than expected. Additionally, many of these new EVs will now have life cycles that end beyond the current benefit-in-kind taxation tables, which adds a further layer of uncertainty.