By Alfonso Martinez, Managing Director at LeasePlan UK
As we come to the end of what has been an extremely difficult and emotional year, it’s easy to forget just how much has been accomplished within the fleet and automotive sectors during the last 12 months.
Keeping things moving
It’s been anything but straightforward, but with the power of hindsight, our collective successes are clear. Millions of key workers across the country have been kept mobile throughout the pandemic, all against a backdrop of widespread closures and backlogs across the manufacturing and maintenance sectors.
At LeasePlan UK, we’ve managed to keep tens of thousands of essential workers safe with prioritised maintenance and by supplying additional vehicles where needed. At the same time, we’ve supported businesses impacted by Covid-19 to manage their budgets, with payment waivers for smaller companies, vehicle extensions that offered cost savings and certainty in an uncertain time, and flexible access to vehicles for shorter-term needs.
Prepare for the unexpected
This year has taught us that we, as an industry and as a wider economy, need to be more prepared for the unexpected. It’s this newfound need for flexibility which will form the cornerstone of our new Flex service offerings. These will enable us to provide a safety net for our customers and to protect them from unexpected events, whilst also giving them the confidence they need to make bolder sustainable decisions for the future.
Equally as impressive is the tremendous solidarity we’ve seen and witnessed within the fleet industry. At LeasePlan UK, our colleagues, customers and partners have all come together to support one another, as we made our way through the murky waters of the pandemic. Thousands of LeasePlan UK employees have uprooted their usual work routines, practically overnight, to work from home. This has allowed us to keep our phonelines open and to continue to provide our vital support services to customers. It’s this sense of solidarity that has forged an even tighter bond with our fellow LeasePlan teams across the globe, sharing best practice and learning from each other’s experience.
Drive for electrification
On a final note, we must acknowledge the huge strides towards electrification that we’ve made this year here in the UK. COVID-19 has really bolstered the industry’s drive for electrification, and one of the defining moments for us was the revelation through our Car Cost Index that for the first time ever, certain types of EVs are cheaper to run than ICE equivalents.
This is a landmark moment for the automotive industry and a sure sign that the long-awaited tipping point for EV affordability is finally here. 2020 is the year in which the industry said EVs are no longer a luxury for the few, but a reality for the many. This is especially true for employees whose employers offer an EV salary sacrifice scheme, which brings down the net cost of driving an EV considerably. All of this is particularly reassuring in light of the recent announcement from the UK Government that the date for the ban of sales of new fossil fuel vehicles will be brought forward to 2030 – an ambitious move that we are fully behind.
Looking to 2021 and beyond
Despite the adversity we faced this year, and the radical shakeup the pandemic caused to our businesses and ways of living, we’ve made it through, resilient and strong. Our customers have relied on our vehicle knowledge and mobility expertise more than ever before, and we expect this consultative partnership to strengthen and extend into 2021 and beyond. The role of the fleet provider has truly never been so important.