Date: Monday, March 25, 2024

More than just a rental company, Northgate Vehicle Hire helps its fleet customers to flourish. 

Four decades is a long time in business, so you must be doing something right to ply your trade for such a stretch. Northgate Vehicle Hire now has more than 40 years under its belt, and one of the reasons for its longevity is that, while van rental is a core part of its business, it does an awful lot more than that.  

Rather than operating from a ‘hand over the keys and off you go’ perspective, the company aims to form partnerships with its customers to better understand their business and to help boost their success.  

It offers a series of different hire services of varying lengths and specifications to suit businesses of all stripes, be they an SME after a handful of vans or a blue-chip behemoth in need of hundreds or more. Rental options all include servicing, maintenance and breakdown cover as standard for peace of mind.

Options aplenty 

Short-term hire does what it says on the tin: existing customers can rent vans at the drop of a hat and for as long as they want them. However, Northgate understands that many fleets require vehicles for longer periods, and that surety and flexibility are paramount for certain operations. 

That’s where its next two rental options come in. Flexible hire starts at three months and can be extended from thereon out. It is designed for businesses that have a rough idea of how long they’ll need vans, but want some wiggle room in the return dates for contracts that could take longer than expected. 

Then there is the 12months+ option, which is for organisations that know they need vehicles for at least a year and for periods of up to four years – for example, those working to fixed-term contracts. It represents an excellent alternative to the longer-term commitments of contract hire or buying vehicles outright, which are often just too lengthy or big a commitment for fleets with a clear project deadline, or those rightly wary of an uncertain economic future. 

Northgate also offers a simple way for businesses to dispose of their existing vans and switch from ownership to rental. Known as We Buy You Rent, the scheme offers owners a fair market price for their existing vehicle, along with all the benefits of renting a new one via any of the aforementioned hire options. 

This is especially relevant for the increasing numbers of operators with ageing fleets, a trend exacerbated by this decade’s new vehicle supply issues. It’s also ideal for those keen to quickly dispatch with older vans, which perhaps do not meet the emission standards required to enter inner-city clean air zones, and replace them with clean, modern equivalents that comfortably travel in and out of any city centre without charge. As an example, non-compliant vehicles must pay £12.50 per day to enter London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone, which will quickly rack up for those regularly entering corresponding areas of the capital. 

Drive to Zero 

On the subject of clean vehicles, Northgate also offers electric vans and charging infrastructure. It is well aware that many fleets are keen to make the switch to plug-in vans and that there are well-documented operational challenges to doing so, which where its Drive to Zero programme comes in. The company has a team of expert consultants, skilled in all things E-LCV, to help fleets successfully adopt electric vans, covering everything from picking the right vehicle, through driver training, and advice and assistance with charging infrastructure. 

Electric LCVs are arriving on the market increasing numbers, and it can be difficult to work out which ones best suit a particular fleet’s requirements. Northgate’s EV suitability service tackles that conundrum by identifying both the most appropriate electric vans for customers and the vehicles on their existing fleet that could realistically be replaced with a clean, plug-in equivalent. It can also offer trial vehicles, so fleets can take an electric van for a limited period and put it to the test before committing to a larger order. 

Charging infrastructure is just as much a hurdle as electric vehicle procurement, and another area in which Northgate can assist.

Its sister company, ChargedEV, specialises in workplace and domestic installations and has fitted more than 45,000 units. In addition to installing charge points, it also provides a consultancy service to help customers through the cost and regulatory hurdles often associated with upgrading their electric infrastructure and operates from a brand-agnostic position when it comes to the charge point hardware, supplying customers with whatever equipment is most appropriate for their particular needs. It also examines fleets’ nearby public charging infrastructure, along with charge points on vehicles’ regular routes, to establish the feasibility of charging vehicles out in the field.  

Northgate is also the only UK company to offer a van hire and home charging service in one bundle. This sets up fleets and drivers with everything they need to get up and running with a plug-in van – including the vehicle and a home charge point for the driver – in one straightforward package. Billing for both the vehicle and the charging facilities is condensed into one monthly payment to make it as easy as possible for fleets to make the switch to plug-in vehicles. 

The UK government’s ZEV mandate has brought electric vehicles into sharper focus. It requires 22% of manufacturers’ UK-registered new vehicles to be electric this year and will increase to 80% by 2030 and to 100% in 2035, putting plug-in models firmly on the agenda for business users. Many fleets will also be encouraged to adopt electric vans due to environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) initiatives, which are increasingly required when bidding for and maintaining contracts.

Northgate is hosting 12 EV open days throughout 2024 for existing and prospective customers of all types and sizes. Its EV experts will be available to discuss fleets’ queries and concerns about shifting from internal combustion to electric vehicles, a broad range of EVs will be available to test drive – everything from large vans to micro-mobility scooters – and its charging infrastructure specialists will also be on hand to advise fleets on how best to power up their EVs. 

More than van hire 

In addition to its forward-thinking electric vehicle initiatives and multiple hire options, Northgate also has the nuts and bolts of daily vehicle operation covered.  

Every vehicle includes a full service and maintenance package as standard, along with a 24/7 breakdown and recovery service. Vehicles are supplied with the road fund licence included.  

As for the vehicles themselves, fleets can expect more than the average plain white van. They can be specced for the job, and customers can choose from a range of extras, such as racking, branding, roof bars and additional security features, such as slam locks. 

Northgate also offers a series of fleet mobility solutions designed to take the pressure off operators. They include a full fleet management service, with an account manager responsible for vehicles during their entire time with the customer to minimise vehicle downtime, slash fleet costs and, ultimately, to free-up fleet managers’ time. 

Its risk management service comprises fleet risk audits and driver risk assessments and training, while the accident management option deals with incidents across a customer’s fleet, including everything from first notification of loss through to insurance and repair. 

The telematics option allows fleets to keep tabs on their vehicles at all times, and sharpens up driver behaviour and route planning, leading to fewer incidents and lower fuel costs. As an example, a typical customer saved £53,000 in the first year of installing Northgate’s telematics to its vehicles from avoiding London’s Congestion Charge and ULEZ charges, while telematics can also be used as part of the Drive to Zero programme to help establish whether certain vehicles are suitable for electric replacements.   

The vehicle inspection app allows drivers to perform their independent compliance checks before they commence a day’s work and cuts down on paper by logging the reports digitally. Finally, the fuel management service helps fleets to drive down costs with a fully managed fuel card solution for money off the pump price. 

With more than 50,000 vehicles at its customers’ disposal and 68 branches nationwide, Northgate is the go-to vehicle hire partner for fleets that want their business to succeed. More than just a rental company, its full suite of hire packages and expert support services cater for businesses of all shapes and sizes, whatever their needs.

Find out more at or call Northgate on 0330 042 0903



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