Ryan Georgiades, Managing Director, Plan Insurance Brokers
How can Chauffeurs remain ahead of technology?
In recent years technology has advanced at an increasingly dramatic rate. The private hire and chauffeur industry has been shaken to its core by the tech based start up Uber. The American firm has risen quickly, some would say unfairly, and now dominates an invigorated market place. Embracing new technology will be essential for a business to survive in this ultra competitive trade.
With this in mind we recently commissioned research into British small business owners’ appetite for adopting new technology.
The positive news is that British small business owners are well aware of the importance of tech innovation.
- 60% of SME owners believe that businesses have to keep up with the latest technologies in order to survive
- Over half of SME owners are interested to see how technology will advance, as opposed to a third of general consumers
Tesla Model S for Chauffeur use
Electric vehicles have been available in the market place for sometime without making a significant impact in terms of vehicle numbers. The UK is currently second in the European table in terms of the number of 100% electric Nissan taxi vehicles on the road.
This sounds impressive as the Nissan is one of the highest selling brands for 100% electric private hire vehicles but when you consider it only took 134 vehicles to reach the silver medal position you realise that market penetration remains limited.
A major concern preventing more taxi operators taking the plunge is battery life. However electric vehicle champions believe the technology offered by Tesla could be a game changer. After over a decade of trying the American firm, chaired by serial tech innovator Elon Musk, appears to be making significant inroads into convincing private hire companies that it’s worth plugging in to EVs.
Tesla has set about providing the necessary infrastructure to overcome the dread of running out of power by installing over 30 rapid charge points in the UK with bold plans for a further expansion of this network. The fear of having to keep executive clients waiting for overly long periods whilst charging takes place has also been addressed. A rapid charge of 20 minutes can now provide sufficient power to travel approximately 130 miles (50% of the vehicles total range) and an added bonus is that their motorway charge stations are free to use.
One of our clients, CJH of Shottery Ltd, a luxury chauffeuring business based in Stratford-upon-Avon, has embraced this cutting edge electric vehicle technology by adding a Tesla Model S to its fleet. M.D. David Herman believes the purchase has provided significant benefits for the business with:
- Projected increase in new customers of 35% by the end of 2015 due to intrigued clients interested in the vehicle’s technology
- Excellent economy per charge – approx. 260-270 miles per tank, perfect for transfers to and from London Heathrow (200 mile round trip)
- With the government’s £5,000 low emission grant and the saving on not paying VAT, electric vehicles are an affordable choice
- On top of this, businesses receive 100% tax relief against their corporation tax
- No London congestion charge
I am the first chauffeur company in my town to offer a 100 per cent electric vehicle. This has increased my turnover with new customers wanting an environmentally friendly option to travel. It has also been received very well with existing corporate clients and new ones interested in their own carbon footprint as a company.
Another of our chauffeur insurance clients Elecar Ltd only has good things to say about the Tesla technology. When we spoke to company director Scott Easson he provided the following rave review,
It’s well known that EV’s are environmental friendly so I won’t talk about that.
What I would like to comment on is just how much better electric cars are in other respects. It just seems everything is better; running costs, safety, comfort, performance and reliability to mention just few things. I have been driving about with a massive grin ever since I picked up Elecar’s Tesla model S 85D.
For years I have been telling people that EV’s are the future but I must admit I have now changed my mind. They are the cars of today. I have driven a couple of other electric cars and although I am a bit biased about Tesla, well let’s face it they are currently the best but this by no means takes away from the other pure electric cars available. I would without hesitation recommend electric to anybody planning to buy a new car.
A clear reason that electric vehicles haven’t made more inroads into the private hire market is the initial purchase cost. For example despite being much cheaper to run the Nissan Leaf can be over 10-15k more than some of its petrol counterparts. However at 50-70k the Tesla Model S sits comfortably amongst its peers in the prestige chauffeur vehicle market and to avoid fears regarding residual values Tesla offer owners a 50% re-purchase guarantee after 3 years. To reassure business owners regarding the robustness of the technology there is also an 8 year warranty on the battery.
Another issue for firms considering purchasing a Tesla for chauffeur use has been obtaining insurance. Insurers have been cautious to offer terms, probably put off by the high performance capabilities and the unknown costs of settling potential accident repair bills.
As a forward thinking company, embracing technology to enhance not govern customer experience is central to the ethos at Plan Insurance Brokers. Therefore we are more than happy to offer chauffeur insurance for Tesla vehicles.
What do British SME’s think of autonomous cars?
The pace of change is not set to slow. Uber and electric vehicles are not where the disruption in the market place caused by new technology will end. Autonomous vehicles are firmly on the horizon with many predicting that they will be present on Britain’s road before the end of this decade.
Our research revealed that UK small businesses believe in the potential of driverless car technology far more so than consumers:
- 4 in 10 SME owners would own an autonomous car in the future – compared to just 20% of British consumers
- Two thirds believe vehicles will be driverless in the future – whereas 90% of consumers don’t think driverless cars will ever become a reality
Moore’s Law, originally formulated by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965 states that rates of technological improvement will increase exponentially over time. With innovations set to hit UK roads in the near future, that only a few years ago most people would have thought to be more akin to Hollywood sci-fi than reality, it is perfectly reasonable to wonder where technology can possibly take us next?
However there can be no doubt that tech will continue to stimulate change. In the coming years it will be interesting to see which brands successfully adopt new technologies such as 100% electric and autonomous vehicles to fuel their business’s growth.
Will a UK firm rise to Uber’s challenge via an even more effective use of technology?
* Study conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Plan Insurance Brokers in September 2015, sampling 1000 UK adults (including 100 SME owners).