The right car for high-mileage drivers

There is good reason why popular high-mileage cars tend to come from a limited number of manufacturers, so Nick Golding looks at the trends behind the models

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Generally, if an employee drives more than 20,000 miles per year they are classed as a high-mileage driver. Models such as the Vauxhall Vectra and Ford Mondeo are popular among employers providing cars to high-mileage drivers. These classic rep-mobile cars are ideal for high-mileage drivers on the grounds of fuel economy, safety and cost of maintenance.

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Cars such as the Ford Mondeo or the Vauxhall Vectra may lack the glamour and sex appeal of up-market vehicles, and to some they may seem mundane, but for high-mileage drivers they ooze practicality. John Gaynor, head of client services at ING Car Lease, explains: "It’s true that people don’t often nominate a Mondeo or a Vectra as a company car, but these cars are seen as tools of the trade. They are classic examples of a high-mileage driver’s vehicle." According to fleet providers, these two models offer adequate safety and comfort at a reasonable price and are most popular among employers providing cars to high-mileage drivers.

But employee choice need not be limited to these models. Employers can also offer other practical cars such as the Renault Laguna, Toyota Avensis or Peugeot 407, or more luxurious and up-market makes, such as the Audi A3 or the BMW 3 Series. It must be borne in mind, however, that the cost of ownership can be minimised by selecting the right manufacturer. Adrian Baldwin, marketing manager at Masterlease, says: "The common rep car manufacturers like Ford and Vauxhall are used to dealing with large fleet numbers and will be happy to offer discounted rates to large organisations which are making bulk purchases. However, more prestigious German manufacturers will not be so keen to take part, he adds.

Val South, fleet manager at Xerox, agrees: "Vauxhall is one manufacturer that we have bought from in the past because they can be purchased cheaply and maintenance costs are low." Fuel economy is one element that helps to drive the price of a vehicle down, so the type of car that fleet managers typically want to offer high-mileage drivers are those which are economic with fuel or powered by diesel. This is a cheaper option than expensive ‘fuel guzzlers’ such as 4x4s or sports cars. Dean Woodward, consulting and risk manager at DaimlerChrysler Fleet Management, explains: "It does depend on the amount of miles you end up doing, but one car could save up to £100 per year using diesel.

If you spread this out over the whole fleet a company could be saving thousands of pounds." Furthermore, cars such as the Mondeo and the Vectra are produced in such large quantities that the cost of maintenance is kept to a minimum, which is important if they are being used frequently. "These cars are cheap to maintain because there are so many of them, which means that the parts are easy to come by. In simple terms, a Mondeo, for instance, costs less to run than a BMW," explains Gaynor. And, it is in the interest of employers to provide a vehicle that offers drivers comfort, especially if employees are expected to spend a large part of the day behind the wheel. And although these cars do not have the luxurious interiors that more expensive models have, they are large, and so provide enough space inside to enable drivers to be comfortable behind the wheel. "Comfort is important. You need to be able to walk at the end of the day, and [cars like Mondeos and Vectras] provide ample space inside," says Gaynor.