Analysis
12 Feb 14

Car Lease & Fleet Management Review January 2014

These are tricky times. The outlook is positive: 80% of European fleet managers surveyed by GE Capital expect their fleets to grow or at least remain stable in the coming 24 months. An even higher share planned to expand their fleet internationally – Turkey, Brazil and Russia among the favourites of the 'emerging markets'. But priorities change: another survey, by KPMG, shows how the interest in alternative fuels is declining, on the one hand because non-fossil cars remain expensive, but also – paradoxically – because fossil-engine cars are getting greener. It's crucial to stay up to date. Which is why this Review brings you of some of January's more relevant lease and fleet news stories.

DEALS

  • ALD Automotive has delivered 14 Nissan Leafs to French cooling system equipment supplier Mota, as the company, with plants at Marseille and Aubagne, is keen to avoid CO2 emissions. ALD advised the company to select staff which could use e-cars without experiencing range problems.
     
  • ARI Fleet UK has announced Michelin as its first choice for tyre fitment. The manufacturer’s expertise in safety, longevity and fuel efficiency was key. Following a separate competitive tender, ARI selected ATS Euromaster as service provider because of its nationwide network coverage, fast response times and expertise in B2B accounts.
     
  • Tusker, the UK salary sacrifice and contract hire provider, has been re-appointed to provide lease cars, salary sacrifice cars and grey fleet management services to NHS Trusts and other public sector bodies across the UK by the National Health Service (NHS). Over the past three years, Tusker supplied almost 4,000 cars to NHS Trusts all over the UK. Under the new agreement, Tusker can now extend its services to any UK public sector body, including police forces, fire services, local authorities and councils.
     
  • One of Japan’s largest automotive leasing companies, Ichinen Holdings Co. Ltd, has selected Belgium-based software specialist Sofico's Miles leasing and fleet management solution to manage its fleet of more than 120,000 vehicles. Ichinen provides automotive leasing, fleet management and contract maintenance as well as fuel sales services in Japan. It has a fleet of more than 61,000 leased vehicles with a similar number under fleet management.
     
  • From 1 July onwards, Arval will no longer be responsible for supplying Renault's contract hire business to small fleets through the networks or Renault and its associated brands, Nissan, Dacia and Infiniti. The provision of in-house fleet business as a white-label product  will be taken over by RCI Financial Services, the Renault-owned bank.
     
  • The Belgian postal service Bpost has reached a deal with Chevin Fleet Solutions to use its FleetWave software to manage its fleet of 17,000 cars, vans, trucks, (e-)bikes and scooters. Bpost chose Chevin after a European tender, because of the levels of functionality and the reporting capability of its software.

ACQUISITIONS

  • The German Autobank has taken over HLA Fleet Services from Hannover Leasing Automotive, effective 1 January. Autobank has acquired HLA Fleet Services to build its portfolio, enabling the company to offer not just vehicle financing, but other services like factoring or fleet management.

NEW MARKETS

  • Enterprise Rent-A-Car has announced new franchisee appointments in Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland as part of its planned programme of expansion in Europe. It has selected General Lease, a division of Groep Boden, to operate the “Rent a Car” brand in Belgium and Luxembourg, whilst Auto-Interleasing (AIL), a family owned business dating back 80 years, is the franchisee in Switzerland.
     
  • The B2B car-sharing specialist Carbox is changing its name, but continuing its international expansion. Under its new name Ubeeqo, the company is expanding from France and Germany into the UK and Belgium. No longer content to be a B2B car-sharing specialist, it now positions itself as a mobility operator. Hence Ubeeqo's broad range of offers, one of which specifically targets the fleet market.

NEW SERVICES

  • Hertz has revamped its mobile app with several new features, including an enhanced location search option and the ability to access the app in airplane mode to reschedule and update rentals. The updated app, built to harness each mobile device's available screen size, also offers customers faster reservations and persistent log in.
     
  • A new dedicated fleet vehicle comparison service has launched as CompareMyFleet.com. It is designed to provide businesses with a free online service that seeks out the lowest available lease rate on any car or LCV. The company is already working, it states, with numerous contract hire and leasing companies including Alphabet, Days Contract Hire, GE Capital Fleet Services, Inchcape Fleet Solutions, LeasePlan UK, Lex Autolease, Ogilvie Fleet and Volkswagen Financial Services.
     
  • Fleet Europe has joined forces with GE Capital for the first ever industry-wide survey on car fleet policy, uncovering trends and focusing on the benchmarks that will lead to effective fleet management in a recovering economy. The 2013 Car Policy report explores the common challenges and opportunities facing fleet professionals, with its findings based on an online survey completed by over 70 companies that collectively manage in excess of 150,000 vehicles. 
     
  • Fleet management software company Jaama has launched a new and improved website, which includes a software finder to help fleet decision-makers discover critical information on Jaama’s web-based Key2 system, and details comprehensive information on the company’s suite of products, training seminars and industry information as well as giving users the ability to quickly book a demonstration of the system.
     
  • Dutch telecoms provider KPN has launched three fleet management modules. KPN EcoDrive will save 20% by improving driving techniques; KPN Live provides real-time fleet info; and KPN Tax and Expense supports the financial department in calculating and approving business and private mileage.
     
  • ALD Automotive and Dutch independents association NZW have partnered up to provide the growing group of independent professionals with mobility that fits their needs. To do this, ALD will offer short-term, project-based contracts, among other formulas.
     
  • Europcar has opened its first Mobility Centre at the ExCeL centre in London to serve the needs of exhibition visitors, exhibitors, the campus residents and employees, hotel guests and the immediate wider business and consumer communities. The car hire services include a chauffeur-driven option, a both a valet service and a bus service connectingto nearby London City Airport. 
     
  • Becoming a 'complete' connected car services provider, from OEM to driver – that is the ambition for 2014 of TÜV SÜD Auto Service GmbH – not just Germany's, but Europe's largest independent provider of fleet services (to more than 115,000 fleet vehicles across the continent). Certification and exhaust testing will be complemented with a range of more typical car services, and these bundles will then be used to build strategic partnerships with OEMs, suppliers, fleet operators and consumers. TÜV SÜD's ambitious plan aims to reverse the 4.2% decline in new registrations and a return below 1% in 2013, an extremely weak year.
     
  • Small and medium-sized fleets are the main target of a new stand-alone fleet management solution launched across Europe by Fleet Logistics International. The supplier-backed solution, which is as yet unnamed, is available from 20 January to 30 April and targets national fleets from 50 to 300 vehicles and multi-country fleets of up to 1,500 vehicles.

GREEN FLEET

  • Daimler Mobility Services and German railway subsidiary DB Rent want to link their car-sharing schemes – car2go and flinkster, respectively. The two German schemes are relatively complimentary, as flinkster is based at railway stations, and car2go isn't. By this summer, customers of either scheme can dispose of more than 6.600 rental vehicles and 8.500 rental bikes.
     
  • Tesla has chosen Sixt to offer leasing contracts on the Model S in Germany. Under the deal agreed by Tesla's CEO Elon Musk and Sixt, Germany largest car rental company, the Model S would become available to lease for a monthly rate of just over €800. If you calculate in the monthly savings made by driving on electric power instead of fossil fuel, that figure drops to about €500, Musk claims. That would put the rate for a Model S slightly above that of a basic BMW 5 Series.
     
  • The interest for vehicles using alternative fuels such as electricity, natural gas and biodiesel is decreasing. That is a conclusion of an annual KPMG survey of 200 senior executives from the international automotive industry.  Interest in alternative fuels is especially decreasing in developed countries. Air pollution may be a factor.

LEGISLATION

  • E-cars are expensive, have a limited range and take a long time to charge up. Germany and its Länder want to compensate these minuses by offering potential customers another plus: free parking! Such a law is currently under discussion in Hamburg, Baden-Württemberg and Nordrhein-Westfalen, and the initiatives are followed with interest by the Federal government.
     
  • UK Fleets are opposed to a proposed ban on hands-free calling while driving. Road safety charity Brake had called for such a ban, but a survey now shows that business is increasingly dependent on the technology. Over two-thirds of fleet operators thought a ban would reduce their company's turnover by more than 25% - even though almost as many respondents acknowledged that hands-free calling does distract drivers.

AWARDS & ACCOLADES

  • Corporate mobility and car fleet management specialist Alphabet has been named ‘Leasing and Fleet Management Company of the Year' at the annual BusinessCar Awards in the UK, voted for by readers. Alphabet which recently launched its AlphaElectric consultancy service, was also named overall ‘Service Supplier of the Year’.

MILESTONES

  • In January, Ireland's Car Rental Council became the newst member of Leaseurope, the trade body representing leaseing and automotive rental at European level. The CRC said that Leaseurope membership will help it address the impact of EU regulations on the industry.
     
  • Car parks in the 5 biggest European markets counted a 13.5% year-on-year increase in new car registrations in December 2013. The figures per market: +25% in the UK, +24% in Spain, +12% in France, +10% in Italy and +4% in Germany. These good end of year figures limit the deficit with 2012 as a whole to 1.5%.
     
  • TomTom Business Solutions saw 38% growth last year with the number of vehicles fitted with its technology increasing year-on-year from 239,000 to 330,000 in January 2014. More than 27,000 clients now use TomTom’s fleet management service to manage vehicles in more than 60 countries worldwide. TomTom will launch its latest innovation in the Q1 2014: a product designed to help SMEs take advantage of connected car technology.
Authored by: Frank Jacobs