The overwhelming majority - 94 per cent - of fleet managers are preparing to invest over the next year, new research has indicated.
Teletrac Navman's 2017 Benchmark Survey gauged the opinions of 175 fleet operators about their plans for the coming 12 months. Only two per cent of those fleet managers responding to the survey signalled that their firm would be making no new investments over the coming year.
What's particularly interesting about this is that it comes at a time when Britain is preparing to leave the European Union, the precise economic implications of which - including the terms of any post-Brexit trade deal - remain unclear. The triggering of Article 50 earlier this year formally kicked off the countdown to Britain's departure and started the preceding negotiation process between the UK government and the EU.
Industry bodies including the Freight Transport Association have reminded the government of the specific need to prioritise the concerns of the logistics and haulage industries, warning that any forthcoming EU-UK trade deal must allow for 'frictionless trade' and minimise any potential disruption to supply chains.
Some 44 per cent of respondents to our survey expressed an intention to upgrade their fleet, while 31 per cent said they were looking to expand it. A third - 33 per cent - said they would invest to improve customer experience.
More than a quarter - 26 per cent in both cases - said they would invest in either finding, retaining and developing talent or brand awareness. In addition, 23 per cent of firms stated that they were looking to integrate technologies and systems. Just over a fifth (21 per cent) reported that they would invest in GPS fleet tracking and 11 per cent in new technologies for regulatory compliance.
To give a broader picture of the UK's economic health, an initial estimate from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggested that the British economy grew by 0.3 per cent during the first quarter of the year. Furthermore, the latest CIPS/Markit Purchasing Managers' Index rose to its highest level (55.8, with any reading over 50 indicating growth) for four months in April, with new work in the service sector growing at its fastest pace so far this year.
This recent performance might go some way to telling us why fleet managers remain so bullish over the short to medium term. With the UK economy notably resilient in the face of Brexit-related uncertainty, the fleet sector appears very keen to capitalise - through new investment and continued expansion - on the opportunities this presents.