Many businesses contemplating the prospect of introducing battery-electric vans to their operation may not know where to start. Fortunately Northgate Vehicle Hire can offer a helping hand under its ‘Drive to Zero’ banner; a key reason why What Van? has awarded it our Rental Company of the Year award.

The company has been running a nationwide programme of EV Roadshows to enable customers to explore the wide range of electric vehicles it has on its books, from e-bikes to large battery-powered panel vans. 

Over 60 clients have been attending each event. They have been able to test-drive vehicles, talk to independent experts, and ask questions in a low-pressure, informal environment.

Electrification requires the necessary charging infrastructure to be installed; a potential minefield of regulatory and cost-efficiency issues, says Northgate. It has partnered with ChargedEV that can provide unbiased advice and install charging facilities countrywide.

As a consequence, Northgate can offer a vehicle and charger bundle. It includes an electric vehicle, supply and installation of a 7kW charger, access to the Monta charging platform, servicing and maintenance of both vehicle and charger – all for a single monthly price.

Availability of an electric van from Northgate is unlikely to be a problem. It pre-orders electric models, ensuring that when a customer is ready to electrify, there is always something suitable on hand.

Trading for more than 40 years and with a 50,000-strong fleet, Northgate boasts 67 locations and over 1,800 employees across the UK. 

Above and beyond electrification, it offers a wide range of conventionally-powered light commercials and can provide them complete with load area racking and in the client’s livery,
if required. 

If firms require refrigerated vans, Northgate can supply them thanks to its acquisition of FridgeXpress. Vehicles needed for highway maintenance can be delivered, too, as result of its acquisition of specialist provider Blakedale.

Rent a van from Northgate and it will be replaced if whatever you have hired is off the road for more than two hours.

Flexibility is built into the company’s hire agreements.

Existing customers can add additional vehicles to their contracts on either a short- or medium-term basis so periods of high demand – the run-up to Christmas or Easter, for example – can be managed without long-term commitments. A change of vans is allowed within the terms of its long-term contracts without a penalty being imposed.

Northgate’s Accident Management package covers every aspect of incidents, from notification of first loss to repairs, the provision of replacement vehicles and legal services. Its updated Fleet Solutions package is designed to streamline administration, monitor servicing, repairs and MoT tests and ensure that vehicle tax and insurance policies are renewed on time.

Its Telematics Solutions offer is at two levels, Control and Control Plus, allowing clients to choose the one that best suits their needs.

Northgate can also provide fuel cards that, among other things, enable savings to be made on pump prices and offer access to electric van charging points.

Northgate’s customers include the British Heart Foundation. It has been helping the charity make the switch to electric vehicles, supplying an initial two Mercedes-Benz eSprinters as part of an inclusive package that includes charging facilities.

Highly Commended: Dawsongroup

The level of support provided to its hire customers under the Smarter Asset Strategy banner has helped Dawsongroup vans drive off with our Highly Commended award. 

With a fleet of over 13,000 light commercials with an average age of around 26 months, it provides every client with a dedicated account manager and offers round-the-clock contact with its branches. Customers benefit from the presence of a network of over 3,000 third-party suppliers active in areas such as service and repair work and body building. 

Dawsongroup vans has set up workshops at its own branches and has a 10-strong team of mobile technicians. 

Rental vehicle handover has been streamlined with the introduction of a new check-
in app, and the business has set up Team Target Zero. Its experts help clients make the switch to a zero-emission fleet. 

As a consequence of its efforts, Dawsongroup vans achieved a customer retention rate of 89.5% in 2022 and 176 new accounts were opened.

Fleet investment totalled £54.2m, resulting in 2,500 vehicles being added to the strength. Tailored short and long-term rental agreements are offered to clients, allowing the company to grow its operations with confidence and with minimal risk to their capital.

Fleet utilisation averages at 93%, while uptime averages at 97%.