The government will be tempted to use the recent VW emissions crisis as an excuse to raise fuel duty in 2016, British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) chief executive Gerry Keaney has said.

As part of his outlook for the next twelve months, Keaney said that fuel duty may be raised as the government looks to eliminate its budget deficit.

He anticipates that fleets’ "frustration" with government agencies such as the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will grow as budget cuts result in them inevitably delaying the introduction of some digital fleet services.

Keaney also expects that fleet owners will have to deal with some manufacturers’ "aggressive" market strategies in 2016.

"Fleet owners will have to deal with the aggressive market strategies of certain OEMs who see their connected car platforms as a key opportunity to gain a direct relationship with the customers of rental and leasing companies. OEMs are also trying to gain a bigger share of the vehicle repair and servicing, breakdown and mobility services markets, which competes directly with the offerings provided by rental and leasing companies," said Keaney.

According to Keaney, hybrids will continue to lead the market for ultra-low emission vehicles as more manufacturers lower their prices, while the car sharing market will continue to mature with the emergence of more corporate mobility schemes and a long-awaited surge in electric car club use in London.

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"Uptake of telematics-enabled usage-based insurance will expand from the younger driver sector into both the rental and fleet markets," added Keaney.

The BVRLA’s priority for 2016 is to raise the profile of the grey fleet and its impacts on costs, emissions and road safety.
In 2015, the BVRLA grew its membership to 780 members and saw its combined member fleet rise to a record high of nearly 4.5m vehicles.

Keaney said: "We were delighted to welcome more than 100 new members in 2015, a clear reflection of both the health of our sector and the vital role the BVRLA plays in helping these companies to operate in an increasingly regulated environment.

"We will be working harder than ever in 2016 as we tackle the issues faced by our expanding and diverse membership."