Fleet maintenance costs on the rise

Last month, the automotive industry announced restrictions to independent mechanics from getting access to enhanced data and tools necessary to fix the increasingly complex vehicles on Australia's roads.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) "walked away" from its negotiations with independent mechanics, it was widely reported. This led to a concern for the industry's reliance on large servicing firms, with less competition in the maintenance sector.

As new regulation comes into place to blockade around 20,000 independent mechanics, what does that mean for fleet managers hoping to stop maintenance costs from spiralling out of control?

Cost increase

The most obvious concern for fleet managers will be what this means for the cost of vehicle repair, servicing and maintenance. Independent garages, after all, make up a large part of the repair industry, and their specialised service can help to keep low fleet maintenance costs.

Executive Director of the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) Stuart Charity said less competition would put undue weight on car dealerships.

"New-car dealerships are forced by car companies to have expensive showrooms and they need to recoup those costs by charging more for servicing," he explained in a report by news.com.au. "That means car owners end up paying more for routine maintenance."

Safety concerns

With new safety technologies reaching the Australian market and making the car a more complex machine to fix, underresourced mechanics will struggle to offer a quality service.

Chief Executive of the AAA Andrew McKellar expressed his concern for maintaining quality, and the risks of Australia losing precious ground in road safety.

"If people don't get their cars properly maintained because they are concerned about costs, then absolutely there is a risk this could affect vehicle safety," said Mr McKellar.

"(The FCAI) is demonstrating little concern for the consumer and they are gunning for independent repairers and service providers. That's a bad thing for consumers as it reduces choice and reduces competition," he concluded.

A month on, the solution seems some way off. However, fleet managers can make preparations to reduce fleet maintenance today and help themselves in the future.

Fleet management software from Smartfleet is designed to streamline the running of day-to-day operations, including reducing the time and cost spent on servicing, while making no safety compromises.