Strength through unity: Stellantis to launch new lease company
It doesn’t yet have a name, but Europe’s newest leasing company, to be launched in 2023, is already making waves. That’s because of its illustrious parents – two leasing companies within the Stellantis Group – and its strong ambitions. “We want to become the European leader in full-service leasing,” says Arnaud de Lamothe, General Manager of Free2Move Lease, in an exclusive conversation with Fleet Europe.
In January, Stellantis announced it would be setting up a multi-brand leasing company in a 50:50 joint venture with Crédit Agricole Consumer Finance (CACF). Under the deal, Free2Move Lease and Leasys will combine their operations to create a European leader in full-service leasing. Target: a fleet of more than 1 million vehicles by 2026.
Scale is indeed of paramount importance in today’s fast-paced and competitive mobility ecosystem. But that’s not the only reason why the new, as yet unnamed leasing giant makes sense, explains Mr de Lamothe.
What was the main motivation to create a new leasing company?
“There were actually three main reasons. Firstly, Free2Move Lease represents the former PSA brands in the Stellantis Group, while Leasys represents the former FCA brands. So it makes sense to join forces, to get the best of both worlds, and thus to become stronger. As the French expression goes: ‘l’union fait la force’ – ‘strength through unity’.”
“Secondly, we see a lot of potential, because operational leasing is a growing market. It even outperforms the B2B market. And if you merge the activities of Leasys and Free2Move Lease, you get the 5th-largest group on the European market. Our ambition is to become the largest. The top spot is currently occupied by Volkswagen Financial Services. They have 1.7 million vehicles, double the 750,000 vehicles Leasys and Free2Move Lease have together.”
“And thirdly, we want to simplify something that is complex. Today, our dealers interact with various representatives from the different financial service companies. Tomorrow, they will have to deal with only one person. One single point of contact. From only one leasing company, for the whole of Europe. Whether it’s about long-term rental or B2B.”
“This new leasing giant will be the result of our joint venture with Crédit Agricole. Also here, it’s the best of both worlds. We have the knowledge and experience in terms of automotive products and services. Crédit Agricole has the expertise in terms of funding and banking. Both will help us achieve our goal: a multi-brand leasing company, offering all kinds of cars, from all kinds of brands.”
Will the new leasing company also offer operational leasing via Crédit Agricole’s network of agencies?
“The leasing company will operate within the Stellantis organisation, with Key Account Managers as direct contacts with customers and our network of dealers in the Business Centres as indirect contacts.”
When you say the leasing company will be multi-brand, what does that mean?
“It means that we can and will offer models from other brands to our customers. So if they want, say, 100 vehicles, and a certain percentage of those should be cars from non-Stellantis brands, then we’re able to offer that complete package. But of course, we’re here to promote our own brands and cars. If we can do that in a context in which we also offer some other brands, then that’s fine.”
What will be the name of the new leasing company?
“Too soon! Of course, that information will follow, but I can’t yet say when we’ll be able to share the new name.”
Will the new company focus on cars, or also on new mobility solutions?
“On both. Within the traditional full-service leasing product, we’ll also provide mobility solutions. It’s a logical evolution. When long-term leasing became popular in Europe, it was mainly a financial product. But we started adding so-called automotive services, such as maintenance and repair, insurance, etcetera. And now, we’re gradually adding mobility services. Which means that your monthly package, you can now also have a charging solution, a renting solution, etcetera.”
“And on top of that, we will develop a new, more flexible leasing or subscription-based formula, as we’re offering today via Free2Move.”
What will happen with Free2Move Lease and Leasys? Will these brands disappear?
“We will have a new leasing company, with one team. That team will come from Leasys, from Free2Move Lease, and from our banking activity. So: one team, one organisation, one location, and one product. Which is long-term operational leasing.”
So, will this merger mean that some people and some roles will become redundant?
“Frankly speaking, we need all the people. As I told you, we see huge opportunities in a growing market. Certainly in customer-facing roles, we need all the people. But indeed, for some functions and in some countries, there will be a certain level of integration. For example you don’t need two CEOs or two Chief Information Officers . But we’re operating within a large Group, so we will find solutions for everyone. Also because we will be reorganising and strengthening our financing organisation, which will create additional vacancies.”
Your new leasing company enters a highly competitive environment. What are its USPs?
‘The first one is Sales. Other multi-brand lease companies in Europe don’t have 3,600 points of sale across the region. But we do. Not only do we have a network that is everywhere, we also have Business Centres with dedicated teams for B2B and operational leasing. In short, we have a dedicated, decentralised organisation, which the other lease companies don’t have."
"In France alone, we have a B2B sales staff of 900. And we have the same number in after-sales. Plus, we can rely on a strong remarketing organisation, with in-depth insight into data from both lease companies and the dealer network. They know the best conditions to remarket a used car.”
On the other hand, you have the image of an OEM-dependent captive. Isn’t that a disadvantage compared to traditional multi-brand lease companies?
“But we will offer multi-brand contracts just like they do. If customers doubt us, it can only be a matter of quality and service. And it’s up to us to be the best. Because we don’t just want to lead in volume, also in quality, after-service and customer satisfaction. Yes, that will be challenging – but it’s a good challenge, one that will motivate our organisation and our people to provide the best. If we can do that for our own brands, we should also be capable of doing that for other brands.”
Will the new company stay European in scope?
“Europe is already a huge market. We will stick to our ambition to become the leader in operational leasing in Europe, with a direct presence in 10 countries.”
Final question: when will the new company kick off?
“We said we’d launch on the first of January 2023, and we’re sticking to that.”
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Picture copyright: Groupe Stellantis, 2022.