With over 10,000 commercial vehicles available through  65 nationwide locations – including 12 van and truck super sites with dedicated van specialists – Europcar has driven off with the What Van? Rental Company of the Year award yet again. It is not hard to see why.

The size and scope of its rapidly-expanding young fleet, with crew vans, tippers, and dropsides designed for traffic management work all listed alongside standard vans, allow it to meet customer demands in a mere four hours. A newly-produced online guide gives details of the models and options that are available – the line-up includes electric and hybrid vehicles – and outlines the service, maintenance and repair support that comes as standard with all long-term rental agreements.

Handover and return procedures have become more efficient says Europcar. Ninety-six per cent of its vehicles are connected, allowing it to know whether they are ready for collection and are at the intended pick-up point.

Furthermore, its customer support teams have undergone increasingly-specialised training in light commercials. The aim is to optimise the use of the fleet at a time of continued vehicle supply shortages; shortages that are prompting companies to look at alternatives to long-term leasing and outright purchase, Europcar contends.

Europcar’s whole stance has enabled it to take a more proactive approach to light commercial servicing and reduce the risk of unscheduled downtime. 

Its partnerships with Halfords and Kwik-Fit mean that rental vehicles can be supported more effectively if they suffer damage or any maintenance issues, with the majority of bookings involving pre-arranged time slots. The company provides access to over 1,400 fast-fit outlets capable of carrying out service, maintenance and repair work, with a number of mobile repairers able to come out and tackle minor jobs.

Windscreen replacement coverage is countrywide, and customers can use Kwik-Fit’s online portal to arrange tyre inspections and replacements which can be carried out by mobile technicians if required. 

As indicated earlier, Europcar is heavily committed to providing clients with low and zero-emission vehicles, and aims to ensure that models emitting less than 50g/km of CO2 will make up 20% of its fleet by the end of 2024. 

It acquired 100 LEVC VN5 range-extended vans, which can run on battery power only for over 60 miles at the start of 2022. It has also offered customers two-week trials of the all-electric Mercedes-Benz eVito.

Aware that businesses need to submit electric vans to longer trials to ensure that they meet their needs, Europcar has also come up with an extended package under the Flex from Europcar for EV banner.

Available for a minimum of three months, with no upfront deposit and commitment-free, it includes a comprehensive handover of the van with charging instructions, the charging cables, and a Shell Recharge card and app. The link with Shell means users can avail themselves of over 10,000 publicly-accessible charging points across the UK.

CO2 reporting is offered as an option to allow businesses to assess the impact going electric is having on their carbon footprint.

Europcar has recently renewed its partnership with green parts provider Synetiq. 

Components from damaged vehicles on the rental fleet are passed to the salvage specialist and are used to repair other Europcar vans. In just 12 months Synetiq has supplied Europcar with a healthy 1,145 green parts; a carbon saving of over 43,000kg.

Highly Commended: Northgate

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High-profile light commercial rental group Northgate wins our Highly Commended award once again.

Useful initiatives it has implemented include Drive to Zero, which furnishes customers who want to electrify their fleets with the support they need. It can provide an electric van, arrange for the supply and installation of a 7kW charger, and give access to the Monta public charging platform, all for a single monthly payment which includes service and maintenance of both the vehicle and the charger.

Furthermore, Northgate has acquired charging infrastructure provider Charged EV; a deep well of charging facilities expertise.

Northgate offers a vast range of vans as standard and can provide any type of vehicle on request. They can be delivered in the customer’s livery, with the load areas racked out in line with the client’s needs.

If one of Northgate’s vans is ever off the road for more than two hours then a replacement is delivered to keep the driver mobile.