Ongoing bottlenecks in the automotive supply chain caused significant challenges for LCV fleets during 2022. Although demand is stronger than ever, a shortage of critical components such as semiconductor chips restricted production, extending lead times for deliveries and disrupting replacement cycles for operators. Close partnerships with leasing providers and a flexible approach to funding have become vital.

With a combined 130-plus years’ experience, LeasePlan UK’s dedicated LCV division provides unmatched expertise in this sector. Every member of staff is trained at the company’s Commercial Vehicle Academy to Bronze, Silver or Gold level, ensuring they can support business van customers and discuss their electric van viability. All LCV account managers are trained to Gold standard, while customer-facing employees undertake a van maintenance awareness training programme. 

Hands-on experience with fleets of all sizes, from SMEs to household name corporates, has enabled the team to adapt quickly to new challenges, and provide flexible solutions to keep customers on the road. One fleet to have benefitted is that of private security firm G4S, which appointed LeasePlan UK in September 2021 to support a company-wide decarbonisation initiative. Its 1,600 light-duty vehicles in the UK and Ireland, 40% of which are vans, will be zero-carbon by 2035.  

LeasePlan UK demonstrated that it could support that transition while meeting G4S’s operational requirements, while using its specialist LCV expertise to reduce operating costs and downtime and provide added value in other areas. Its fleet spans four strategic pillars, covering safety and compliance, data-measured fleet performance, cost and service improvements, and reduced environmental impact. 

LeasePlan UK’s expert consultancy team carried out a thorough appraisal of the current and mid-term electric van market on behalf of G4S at the beginning of the contract. Using this information, it was able to create an extensive review of the security firm’s van fleet, in line with its ‘Road to Zero’ strategy and emission targets. As a result, a quarter of the LCVs on its fleet are now on schedule to move to hybrid or full electric within the next three years. 

Maurizio Romano, European operational fleet lead at G4S, said: “Our choice of suppliers is absolutely intrinsic, because they will support all elements of our fleet strategy. LeasePlan is a significant player in this marketplace and I am confident that they will support the business in the areas we want to improve – for us, it’s about creating positive change and having the right partner to help take us into the future.”

In addition, LeasePlan UK assumed responsibility for vehicles not part of its original implementation. These included a 30-strong patient transportation fleet for one of G4S’s NHS trust partners and three further prisoner transfer vehicles for two G4S-run prisons – for both of which LeasePlan UK secured new fleet management partners within just six weeks. 

It also supplied mid-term rental vehicles through its LeasePlan Flexible proposition, which enables customers to scale up quickly by choosing specific used vans from stock on a three to 24-month basis without the need for a long-term contract. This helped G4S overcome a variety of challenges, including the conversion and delivery of a van to serve as a clinical waste vehicle for a G4S NHS Trust partner that was unable to commit to a full three-year lease. LeasePlan UK facilitated this within the space of just one month.

With long lead times set to continue through 2023, LeasePlan UK is retaining a growing share of top-grade vehicles and redirecting them into Flexible stock to support customers who are looking to electrify their fleets. Demand is strong, reflected by a 255% increase in the LeasePlan Flexible van fleet last year.

Another string to LeasePlan UK’s bow is its capacity to take on major defleeting assignments, overseen by a dedicated defleet planning manager, which involve returning LCV fleet vans into a holding pool before repairing, prepping and redistributing the vehicles to business sites. 

For 2023, LeasePlan is continuing its ‘Next Gen’ strategy, transitioning to a fully digital business to improve efficiency for the business and its customers. However, services are already under constant review. To cater for the requirements of online fleet management, which became crucial during the pandemic, the company improved the My Fleet online system for its clients. Based on customer feedback it redesigned its dashboard with easier navigation. 

Features include quick access to the zero emissions miles covered by hybrid vans and the RDE2 (real driving emissions) compliance for diesel LCVs within the fleet, direct access to the My Vehicle Check page for vehicle fault reporting, enhanced fines notification and optional driver and history data for individual vehicles within the fleet. In addition, there is also a new greenhouse gas calculator which shows potential savings by moving to EVs across various fleet parameters and finally an at-a-glance clean air zone database, to assist fleet operations in their route planning. 

LeasePlan UK has worked closely with customers, capitalising on in-house expertise and relationships with manufacturers to ensure the timely supply of vehicles and services that keep their organisation mobile. It also claims to have maintained 99% availability within its LCV fleet, despite the average age vehicles increasing by 10% from 41 to 45 months. 

Overall, LeasePlan UK’s ability to adapt to a difficult and changing operating environment, while continuing to support the LCV sector and guide it towards an electric future, make it a worthy winner of What Van?’s Leasing Company of the Year Award for 2023.

LeasePlan UK head of comercial vehicles Matt Dillon said: “For LeasePlan, receiving the What Van? Award for leasing company of the year 2023 demonstrates our expertise in the commercial vehicle market – and winning it for the past few years has really helped us cement our position as the market leader. But so much more than that, winning the What Van? Award means so much to our people – we have an incredibly talented and knowledgeable commercial vehicle team and winning the What Van? Award helps recognise the incredible work they do.”