The average age of a diesel fleet van undergoing SMR work has increased by more than a year since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to software firm Epyx.

It said It said data from its 1link Service Network platform showed this average had risen from 31 months to 39 months.

A similar rise has also been reported for petrol cars, from 18 months to 31 months.

Epyx chief commercial officer Tim Meadows said: “It’s well known that the [age of the] fleet vehicle parc has risen since the start of the pandemic but the extent revealed by these figures is perhaps still surprising.

“The reasons for the increase are well understood. Initially, some operators opted to hang onto vehicles for longer because they didn’t cover the expected mileage thanks to lockdowns but, more recently, very poor new car and van supply has been much more of an issue. This is a situation that is only improving relatively slowly, with a huge order backlog still in place.

“Operating older vehicles does, of course, create challenges. They are more likely to break down and the maintenance regime applied needs to be more thorough to ensure ongoing roadworthiness. These are certainly issues that we have been working through with fleets over the last few years, using our technology to help them keep costs under control, minimise downtime and ensure safety.”

Meadows said it remained open to discussion when the average age of fleet vehicles would stop rising and whether they would ever return to pre-pandemic levels.

“The underlying question is whether fleets will choose to operate younger car and vans when supply makes that possible or whether they have learnt that they can economically and effectively operate older vehicles. We’ll find out over the next few years.”