If any lessor deserves applause for the work it has put in to help Britain combat the coronavirus pandemic, it has to be LeasePlan; our Leasing Company of the Year.

Back in late 2020, it started working with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on a vitally-important project to increase the number of mobile testing units (MTUs) across the UK. The aim was to improve the availability of Covid-19 symptomatic tests as part of the National Health Service’s Test and Trace Programme.

LeasePlan and DHSC began by meeting to develop an early vehicle specification in conjunction with several converters. Issues addressed included the MTU’s payload capacity and the need for ancillary equipment, such as an on-board generator and floodlights. 

Having won the tender, LeasePlan began working with Renault and Bristol-based TGS Group, appointed as vehicle manufacturer and converter respectively, to supply and fit out 500 vehicles.

Among other things this involved collaborating with Renault to ensure that an extra door was added to the Masters that were being used to guarantee effective zoning without cross-contamination. LeasePlan also liaised closely with TGS, which acquired premises directly opposite its main site so that it could work on 15 MTUs simultaneously. The leasing giant worked with its partners to make sure that the MTUs were winterised and could keep operating in bad weather. 

Furthermore, it helped ensure the vehicles were wrapped in the livery appropriate to their geographical destination; England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

In addition, LeasePlan co-operated with TGS and suppliers approved by DHSC to secure a continual flow of PCR test kits and personal protective equipment so that they could be loaded into each MTU prior to delivery.

Net result? All the vehicles were delivered within the required three-month period. In line with DHSC requirements, the newcomers are able to provide twice the daily testing capacity of the 258 original MTUs deployed early on in the pandemic.

Once the new MTUs were in operation, they had to be kept functioning given the importance of their role. 

To make sure this happened, LeasePlan devised a full-service rapid response repair and maintenance programme with the aim of minimising downtime. It made a point of building awareness of the vehicles among its own suppliers, including its breakdown response teams, its tyre providers and the workshops it employs.

A dedicated hotline was set up for repairs to the awnings, electrical system and generator – all in addition to the Master itself.

It also developed a non-technical manual, including videos, pictorial guides and QR codes, for the people operating the MTUs. It gives them easy-to-comprehend information about the vehicle, including how to use the electrical system and conduct daily checks, says LeasePlan

The positive verdict on the programme passed by government’s Crown Commercial Service, the biggest public procurement organisation in the UK, is perhaps the most telling one. 

It describes it as: “A true collaboration across the entire fleet industry, at unprecedented pace, against the backdrop of an extremely challenging [global] situation.”

Highly Commended: Arval


Arval is working hard to help van operators understand how the changeover to zero-emission vehicles over the next few years will affect them; and the steps they will have to take in order to cope. The efforts it has put in fully justify our decision to award it our Highly Commended accolade

Last May, Arval invested in research into the effects of temperature, payload and driving cycles on the real-world range of electric light commercials. The transition to battery-electric models was the key theme of its stand at the 2021 Commercial Vehicle Show, and its Light Commercial Vehicle Centre of Excellence is working with customers on the key steps to electric vehicle adoption.

Arval’s consultancy team is providing Total Cost of Ownership and Vehicle Use Analysis tools to help businesses make the switch.

Electric vans of different sizes are being made available to customers for from one to three months through Arval’s mid-term rental fleet so that they can try before they lease. Furthermore, a new partnership with Centrica was about to be rolled out at the time of writing to assist clients with complex electric vehicle charging infrastructure needs.