LeasePlan UK, the vehicle leasing and mobility provider, is one of the latest to join as a member of Smart Transport, representing the vehicle leasing sector exclusively.
Alfonso Martinez, LeasePlan UK managing director, said being the leasing partner for Smart Transport gives the company the opportunity to add a new perspective for other members.
Martinez said: “We’re in a unique position as we’re right in the middle between vehicle manufacturers and the public sector. We can work with all the stakeholders and we can play a very important role in modernising fleets.
“Being part of the Smart Transport board will give us a place to help mobility develop in the UK in the right way.”
Smart Transport membership facilitates relationships between senior transport public policymakers/advisers and the private sector transport mobility sector through networking, collaboration and the sharing of information, opinion and analysis in a neutral and confidential environment.
Martinez describes the challenges of this year from Covid-19 as a “pivotal moment”.
He said: “Covid-19 is teaching us that we can move differently and work differently than before.
“The virus has improved air quality across towns and cities in the UK and we have an opportunity and a new starting point.”
LeasePlan is already taking a leading position on air quality by working with non-governmental organisations like The Climate Group and Global Action Plan on cutting emissions through transport and mobility innovation.
LeasePlan is a founder of The Business for Clean Air Taskforce, which is designed to help major companies build back better by reducing air pollution.
Martinez said: “We’re helping businesses build back better with a greener operating model going forward.”
The 2030 ban and Brexit
Martinez said the Government’s confirmation to bring forward the new petrol and diesel vehicle ban to 2030 was a good target, but there is still work to be done to prepare.
He believes a strong UK charging network will be essential to remove anxiety from drivers and the public that will be moving to plug-in vehicles in increasing numbers over the next decade.
There is also the question of what will happen to electric vehicle (EV) supply in the result of a no deal Brexit.
Martinez said: “We need to make sure that our Government makes sure the UK is attractive enough for manufacturers to keep building EVs for this market.”
Martinez said there also needs to be more innovative thinking and a Government backed solution for those that live in flats or don’t have off street parking outside their homes to be able to charge their EVs.
He said: “All these things together will help people become more responsible for the environment.
“People are willing, but there needs to be Government support.”
Ready to adapt
Covid-19 and Brexit are at the forefront of most people’s minds right now and they are the immediate challenges facing LeasePlan.
Martinez said: “Covid-19 has changed the behaviour of how people think about work, mobility and their day to day.
“As a business, we have to make sure we’re ready to adapt to that.”
He cited LeasePlan Flexible and EV Switch as ways in which LeasePlan has adapted to a changing market.
LeasePlan Flexible lets customers rent a car or van from between three months to two years, with the freedom to change vehicles, extend or off-hire when needed.
EV Switch allows commercial vehicle customers to take a lease for 3 years or more, but with the opportunity to switch out after 24 months with no early termination penalty if replacement electric vehicles are ordered for lease.
Martinez said: “We already have products in the market that are positioned around flexibility.
“I also think mobility as a service (MaaS) is the future for the whole transport industry.
“We’re already building the company around Car as a Service.
“We own the whole life cycle of the vehicle from the moment it is produced, or sold or leased again as a used vehicle.
“We see MaaS as a way of driving what we can do for customers. People are still thinking too much about vehicle ownership.
“As society is finding that it’s not just a matter of owning a vehicle, but moving from one place to another and all the possibilities that entails. We have a huge role to play in that.”
LeasePlan joins a growing list of Smart Transport members that now includes ABB, AECOM, Centrica, Daf Trucks, Enterprise, FedEx, Geotab, Liberty Charge, Macquarie Bank, Phil Jones Associates, Groupe Renault, Raleigh UK and Worldline.