New company vehicles continue to play a central role in small and medium sized business (SME) investment plans in the second half of 2015, according to research from the UK’s leading leasing provider Lex Autolease.

The bi-annual ‘Business in Britain’ survey of 1,500 SMEs from across the UK found that that more than three quarters (76%) of management teams plan to raise money for business investment in the second half of the year, with more than one in four (28%) expected to invest more than £100,000.

The findings show that 9% of small firms planning to invest in their businesses have identified company cars and vans as a key area of spend for the rest of the year, alongside other key priorities of marketing, research and development and new plant and machinery.

The research points to a continuing commitment to company vehicles, with the figure up slightly from a near similar share of planned investment spend (8%) in January.

New vehicles are a particular investment priority for firms in the transport sector with more than a quarter (27%) planning to buy or lease before the end of the year.

Company vehicles are also high on the agenda for SMEs across the construction, retail and healthcare industries. New cars and vans are on the shopping list for more than a sixth (17%), a near equal share (16%) and over a tenth (13%) of small firms respectively.

Simon Barter, head of SME at Lex Autolease, said: “It is encouraging to see that company cars and commercial vehicles remain a key part of investment plans for UK SMEs, particularly in the transport and construction sectors where the overall economic picture looks especially strong.

“As business confidence grows, companies are looking to reduce costs and streamline their operations in different ways to free up cash for growth. As a result, we are seeing an increasing number of firms consider alternative ways of managing company vehicles. As firms look to move depreciating assets off their balance sheets and avoid paying lump sums, we expect to see a rise in vehicle leasing over the next six months as companies make efforts to be more agile.”