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FLEET use of independent garages is around a quarter higher for company cars and vans aged four years old compared to their one year old counterparts, research shows.

New data from epyx shows that buying of service, maintenance and repair (SMR) shifts from 30% independent garage and 70% franchise dealer at 1-2 years old to 35%/65% at 2-3 years old, 40%/60% at 3-4 years old and 38%/62% at four years old and over.

The information is taken from transactions during 2023 for epyx’s 1link Service Network platform, which is used by car, van and truck fleets totalling more than four million vehicles to manage and process SMR.

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Tim Meadows, chief commercial officer at epyx, said: “It’s long been recognised in the fleet sector that as vehicles age, their operators are more likely to use independent dealers, and these new figures show that effect in action.

“It’s clear that fleets see different types of garage as appropriate for different points in a vehicle’s lifecycle and that as they age, factors such as the requirement to maintain a franchise dealer service history or needing to take advantage of the specialist knowledge that comes from using the manufacturer’s official SMR supplier appear to become less important.”

Interestingly, epyx’s data also suggests that there is an ongoing fall away from independent garages for older vehicles, with these suppliers being used for 44% of SMR jobs for four year plus cars and in vans in 2021, reducing to 40% in 2022 and 38% in 2023.

Meadows added: “This is an interesting trend and not one for which we have an obvious explanation, other than the fact that accessing any kind of SMR can be difficult at the moment, and fleets may be finding it easier to book with franchise dealers than independents.’

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