Leasys, the in-house leasing arm of Fiat parent FCA Group, has been on a big growth drive in recent times, breaking into the UK’s top 20 car rental and leasing companies last year.
With a fleet of 15,000, this represents a big expansion for the Leasys business. The brand has various plans for the coming year to further build its numbers as it aims to double its total European fleet to 450,000 and move into the UK’s top 10 by the end of 2021.
The growth plans are big, but Leasys predicts that it will be helped by the mobility market increasing in value by 25% a year, from €25bn in 2017 to €450bn in 2030.
The hope is that its growth will come through a variety of new mobility solutions, which are launching across Europe in 2020 and beyond, and will sit alongside the traditional products such as contract hire, fleet management and used cars. It helps that it doesn’t just work with the FCA brands, dealing with a total of 18 firms including Aston Martin, Harley Davidson, Jaguar Land Rover and Morgan.
As part of this growth, Leasys announced a selection of new products that will arrive in the UK and Europe in 2020 and beyond, largely geared around mobility and car sharing. We take a look at the initiatives on their way and assess how beneficial they
are likely to be to fleets:
U-Go is the first of two products aimed at helping an owner make money out of their car, effectively subletting it when they don’t need it.
“Leasys selects and picks out these users and therefore you have to trust the selection that Leasys makes,” explains Giacomo Carelli, CEO and general manager FCA Bank.
“You can ask the users for a monetary return.”
It’s tough to see the benefit of this product to fleets, with it more likely to appeal to trusting private owners wanting to recoup some of the cost of their car. Where it could be of use in a professional capacity is when it sits alongside a similarly short-term rental offering – as an add-on for an AirBnB perhaps.
It is hard to imagine the fleet manager that would want to take the risk of exposing a company vehicle to the wider public, even if they had been vetted by another company.
Despite being a separate product, I-Link works in a very similar way to U-Go. It, too, enables the user to share their car and split the cost, but in this case it is aimed at those who want to keep the keys within the family or a self-chosen group of people.
“One individual is fundamentally responsible, as with U-Go, to pay the rent at the end of the month but you can split the bill with colleagues,” explains Carelli.
“There is a function called ‘Split the Bill’ – if you used 60% of the car so you pay 60% of the bill.”
As well as being keyless entry and start and accessed by a code (as with the vehicles hired out by street-side hire firms such as Zipcar) I-Link can provide a host of data on who has been driving, and how.
“Through the app you can see who has been driving the car, for how long a time, the fuel consumption – all this so you can make the calculation,” says Carelli. “The car recognises who opened it and booked it – you have to book, and need your name to do so – and you open the car and get in.
“It can be automatically billed – this is an option. The bill is shipped to the different drivers or you can find a different solution with the drivers.”
Initially, the U-Go scheme can be added to personal and business contract hire, with the additional cost likely to be “a small percentage, not double digits,” according to Carelli
Although it is to be offered on business contract hire, Carelli admitted that it will most likely have greater appeal to private groups.
“I would say private will be the bigger uptake – your typical household that will want to split the bill, make sure everyone is driving the car at certain hours. It could be a group of friends deciding to buy a car together,” he says, adding that businesses tend to have their own arrangements in place for car sharing and refunds for employees based on the miles they drive.
One product that is not coming to the UK, in the near future at least, is Car Cloud. This enables a user to drop off a car at one of 1200 sites in Italy, at an airport for example, and pick up a different one at a different location. So far, 3500 people have signed up in the past couple of months and it is set to grow more in Europe.
The FCA Group in the UK is though going to continue working with Drover, a relatively new company that offers short-term leasing deals
“We have had discussions with Drover and we love the channel in the way that they are coming up with solutions,” Sebastiano Fedrigo, Leasys UK country manager (pictured right). “There are a few steps that we need to take before we can say we are going to launch Car Cloud straight away but one of the ideas is that we continue with Drover.”
Although there is no particular new product geared solely at fleets being launched in 2020, achieving the notable increase of vehicles on Leasys’ books is going to take some doing and a focus on corporate customers at least as much as retail.
“The fleet conversation is obviously at the core of what we do,” says Fedrigo. “The proposition of what we do is obviously more tailored to what they require. The best way to get the conversation is to provide them solutions that are both from a contract hire perspective – which are really nothing new – and to have the service and maintenance included.”
The major opportunities for growth, he says, lie with commercial vehicles, and he stressed that the close relationship that Leasys enjoys with FCA and Fiat Professional means they can cater in a way that other finance providers cannot.
“Sometimes the customer will require some changes in the way we provide finance but maybe also their suspension needs amending because they need a front axle that can carry 1.2 tonnes instead of one tonne,” he says. “They can talk to us about financing that vehicle and together we can talk to the brand and say that we need to make a new axle.”
Leasys’ fleet of 15,000 in the UK is currently divided 65/35 towards retail, but this could shift slightly further in favour of retail as it grows.