An auto fleet is a group of vehicles that is owned and operated by either a public or private entity. These fleets can consist of cars, light trucks and heavier duty vehicles. Governments will often have vehicles in their fleets for employees to drive as well as to perform various governmental tasks. An auto fleet operated by a business will typically reflect the industry in which the business is engaged. Delivery companies, for example, will tend to have large numbers of parcel vans and trucks in their fleets, while other businesses might have a variety of cars, trucks and other specialty vehicles.
Many government organizations and municipalities operate auto fleets. In the US, the vehicles owned by the federal government are often referred to as the federal fleet. At the local level, police departments, utilities and other public entities will often operate their own fleets.
Private businesses may possess large fleets as well. Delivery companies, car rental agencies and taxi companies are some examples of businesses that might maintain auto fleets. Businesses that employ outside salesmen will often operate fleets as well, providing vehicles for their salesmen to call on customers.
Rather than purchasing vehicles for their fleets, many government agencies and businesses choose auto fleet leasing. Many fleet vehicles are used extensively and accrue mileage at a faster rate than private vehicles, so an auto fleet lease may provide a cost-effective way for an organization to keep its vehicles fresh. If the vehicles are bought outright, it is common for fleet vehicles to be auctioned off in large lots once the organization determines they are too old or have too many miles.
Some organizations with large auto fleets may retain their own service personnel. In other cases, auto fleet maintenance can provide a lucrative revenue source for third party mechanics since large fleets may require regular maintenance and repair operations. Some organizations that have mechanics on staff may look to have certain fleet maintenance operations done by outside parties if a repair is particularly complex or their repair staffs are at capacity.
Large auto fleets sometimes also have the option to self-insure, rather than using a third party automotive insurance company. The laws governing this practice vary between jurisdictions but are often dependent on how many vehicles are in the fleet. If an organization chooses not to self-insure or is not allowed to, the large number of vehicles in its auto fleet may make the organization an attractive client to insurance agents.