Any leasing company with a rapid turnover of clients has to be viewed with suspicion. Which is why Leaseplan UK’s achievement in retaining 100% of its van customers during the 12 months from September 2019 to September 2020 – a period that included some of the worst weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic – has to be applauded.

As does its success in winning 14 light commercial contracts during the same, hugely challenging, time frame.

And in what may be a first for the light commercial vehicle leasing sector, the company is giving clients with three-year-plus agreements the opportunity to break their contract after 24 months without incurring an early-termination penalty – if they switch to electric vehicles. To aid them it has introduced a specialist help desk that can be contacted by customers who wish to make the change.

Leaseplan uses telematics and other sources of mileage and usage data alongside driver information to determine whether a fleet is ready to go electric, or perhaps embark on a trial prior to making what will be a major decision.

Meanwhile, Leaseplan’s average van fleet CO2 emissions have declined by 0.5% year-on-year, to 166.6g/km.

With these plus points to its credit it is perhaps not surprising that What Van? has made Leaseplan its Leasing Company of the Year for 2021. However, these are not the only areas where it has made progress.

It has improved its My Vehicle Check app in line with customer feedback. A shorter version is now available, with nine questions rather than 35. Fleets can integrate the app into their management software.

A new online reporting tool called My Fleet has been introduced too. Customisable dashboards are available, giving users the ability to, for example, view vehicle damage reports and to understand what is happening so far as maintenance work is concerned. They can also see any vans they have got on order. Help is provided in terms of steering light commercials to the right repairer with an eye to reducing the time they spend off the road.

New, too, is an online booking system that makes it easier to order parts, arrange repairs and decommission vans fitted with telematics systems prior to disposal. 

Leaseplan has further increased its commitment to boosting the level of light commercial knowledge of its employees through greater training – especially for battery-electric models. It has developed a van maintenance awareness training programme, which was being delivered to customer-facing executives at the time of writing. In this context it is worth noting that the company also operates its own Commercial Vehicle Academy.

With the coronavirus a continued concern, Leaseplan has developed a Covid-19 support package. It embraces everything from ensuring that vans driven by key workers are given top priority so far as repairs and replacement tyres are concerned, to providing a contract extension service. Its aim is to help managers keep their fleets together without having to shoulder additional long-term commitments at a time of uncertainty.

Highly Commended: Arval

Leasing companies that wish to be viewed as serious players in the van market must ensure they develop the necessary in-depth knowledge, which Arval has made a point of doing, and is a key reason why it has received our Highly Commended award for 2021.

With nearly 50,000 vans on its books, the company has developed a light commercial vehicle Centre Of Excellence. It is home to a team of consultants, fleet management specialists and support technicians whose aim is to drive fleet productivity and efficiency
while minimising costs.

They provide advice on selecting the right van for the job, ensuring that it has the correct specifications together with any ancillary equipment that may be required. 

They help with choosing bespoke conversions, and assist anybody who is considering switching to battery-electric models. That includes addressing areas such as infrastructure support.

The centre’s staff can also provide regulatory and legislative advice and recommendations, and help in guiding fleet strategy. Such guidance is sorely needed given the extensive changes that are taking place in the UK economy.