There’s more to PSA Peugeot Citroen pulling together its leasing arms than simple streamlining, as Free2Move Leasing boss Duncan Chumley explains.
Early this year, PSA Peugeot Citroen took the surprise decision to bring together its Citroen Contract Motoring and Peugeot Contract Hire businesses under a new Free2Move Lease branding, part of the Free2Move group that will house PSA’s move towards mobility services.
And that’s the key, according to Chumley, the former sales director of Citroen Financial Services who is heading up Free2Move Lease.
“The idea was to create a brand in the group that is all about mobility; we understand that technology is changing the way people and consumers behave and everyone has seen that in every market,” he tells Company Car Today. “The car market in retail and fleet are no different.
“As a group we are a car manufacturer, but we also supply a solution for mobility and we believe that is a lot wider than just the manufacturer of the car,” he continues. “We wanted to make sure we created a brand that could deliver those solutions, whatever they may be, now and in the future.”
“Removing our names increases the ability to do all-marques leasing”
Free2Move Lease is the business-to-business element of Free2Move, but the division is already acquiring and developing mobility businesses across Europe, such as car-sharing schemes in seven European countries.
Bringing together of Peugeot and Citroen’s leasing operations also gives Free2Move some considerable power; with around 64,000 vehicles on its books, the company has suddenly moved into the top six leasing firms. Removing the manufacturers’ names from the door also increases the opportunity to do all-marques leasing, rather than just pushing PSA products.
“I think that’s very important, less so for SMEs but certainly when you start talking to mid-sized fleets, the ability to provide one solution is very important,” says Chumley. “We haven’t got a high ambition, in the first year we don’t expect to write more than 1,000 non-PSA contracts and our aim is not to go out and say we’re Lex Autolease.
PSA Peugeot Citroen launched the Free2Move brand last autumn, and Free2Move Lease came into being at the beginning of 2017 with the merging together of Citroen Contract Motoring and Peugeot Contract Hire under the new brand.
That means a combined team based at PSA’s UK headquarters in Coventry, and Free2Move Lease boss Duncan Chumley said the company has also added 25 new staff as it takes on its own RV management and SMR costing, rather than relying on the brands.
“We have combined the two businesses, that’s stage one,” says Chumley, also pointing to opportunities with the other Free2Move divisions, such as the fleet management and car sharing, as well as future acquisitions.
“The concept is that we will hopefully deal with our customers on various issues and mobility solutions that may not necessarily involve the car manufacturers directly.”
“Obviously we will be focused on PSA as you might expect, but if a customer has a requirement or desire for other vehicles, or there is something that we don’t produce, such as a 7.5t van, we don’t want to be in a position where we say we can’t provide it,” he continues. “I don’t want to be restricted if a customer has 100 vans with PSA, we’ve got a brilliant relationship, but they need five Range Rovers. Now we’re in a position to deliver that.”
To that end, Chumley has appointed Anna Ford as manufacturer relationships manager, to help illustrate that Free2Move is separate to PSA and can operate independently of Peugeot and Citroen.
Looking ahead, Free2Move Lease’s managing director isn’t predicting a big increase in vehicles on the company’s books, and the volume may decrease if the mobility solutions concept takes off, though in the medium term he’s looking for around 6,000 non-PSA vehicles.
“It’s not just about the number of vehicles we have got on fleet because we’re also looking to grow the other areas the group is currently investing in,” explains Chumley. “That may involve having fewer vehicles on fleet because we’re providing a solution that means the company doesn’t need to run so many vehicles.
“It depends on the company and where it’s based, we’re trying to get a balance,” he says. “Our growth may be that we keep our fleet fairly stable but we grow our fleet management or fleet solutions part of the business.”
Offering services to the SME sector that they haven’t had access to before is important for Free2Move. The smaller and medium-sized fleets were a strength area for the Peugeot and Citroen financing companies, so connected services and mobility solutions for that sector, things that larger fleets have traditionally had the ability to exploit, could be a growth area.
“We want to say to customers that we want to take you along steps, offer this and that but we want to offer what you want; tell us what is important to your business, what it key” Chumley concludes. “The added complication is proving to be around connected services and a vast array of different solutions.”