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Leasys flexibility keeps employees on the road

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) captive finance provider Leasys took a series of rapid and decisive measures to support fleet customers during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

It immediately offered customers payment deferrals to help them address urgent cashflow difficulties. Then it focused on the supply chain. As cars came to the end of their contract, customers were given two choices. If they had ordered a replacement vehicle, they could still go ahead with the handover, with Leasys organising all vehicle movements. If they no longer wanted the replacement at that time, or hadn’t placed an order, then they could extend the contract on the current car at a discounted rate.

“These were the two obvious areas where we could offset the negative impact of the pandemic,” says Leasys UK managing director Sebastiano Fedrigo. “The aim was to keep our customers and their employees mobile.”

Around half of its customers opted for a contract extension, some four months, others six. However, due to the ongoing economic uncertainty, more companies are likely to take advantage of the offer.

“Uncertainty doesn’t allow a lot of investment from corporates,” says Fedrigo. “We have also seen company cars not utilised as much with a lot of people working at home and online. Because mileages are low, we expect more extensions and we’ll continue to offer this option.

“However, whereas before it was offered to all customers, now it’s more of a tailored extension based on model and stock levels.”

In June, Leasys took additional steps to support FCA customers with the introduction of two new products.

The first, a job loss protection payment waiver, gives cash allowance employees a payment holiday for up to seven monthly repayments should they lose their job in the first 12 months after leasing a car between June 1 and September 30, 2020.

“This eases any apprehension and gives them confidence to lease a car during this period,” Fedrigo explains.

Secondly, Leasys is now able to offer corporate and retail leasers a pay-as-you-go Contract Hire plan. Initially piloted on the Fiat 500 Hybrid Lounge, it is likely to be extended to other models, if successful.

“The idea is to be able to satisfy peoples’ need for mobility in urban areas and especially if they have a fear of using public transport in these current circumstances,” Fedrigo says. “That’s why we started with the hybrid because it is also offering a more environmentally-friendly option to urban mobility.”

Called Leasys Miles, it enables a company or drivers to pay only for the miles driven, on top of a low monthly payment of including VAT initial rental on Personal Contract Hire*, with the first 700 miles of contract offered at no additional charge. The scheme uses telematics technology to track monthly mileage and calculate payments which are based on 19.2 pence per mile.

Fedrigo says it is “outperforming our expectations” and he is confident other brands within the FCA Group will also introduce pay-as-you-go in the coming months, including the recent launch of Fiat Professional Doblò Cargo 1.3 MultiJet 16v 80 van at £149 per month plus £149 initial rental on Business Contract Hire*. The first 500 miles of contract at no additional charge with 0.25 pence excl. VAT per mile travelled.

“This is most cost-effective for customers who do mileage lower than a standard leasing contract,” he says.

“If the initiative continues to be successful, by Q1 next year, we expect Leasys Miles to be offered across the FCA range,” he adds.

Flexible funding options give fleets a wider choice and are likely to result in further blurring of the lines between long- and short-term leasing, with fleets demanding one-stop shop solutions from their leasing partners.

Leasys and FCA already offer subscriptions rental in partnership with Drover and demand has been encouragingly resilient over the past few months. It enables customers to choose their own contract length, between one and 24 months, for a monthly fee which includes service, maintenance and repair (SMR), and breakdown cover.

With Drover primarily targeting retail customers, Leasys is now looking at how this agreement might work in the corporate market.

Ultimately, these types of services are likely to come under the umbrella of the Mobility Store. Currently being trialled across 300 Italian locations, including airports and train stations, these outlets feature specialist consultants who advise on all Leasys mobility options.

“Our direction of travel is mobility. There are lots of initiatives we are working on, including car sharing and peer-to-peer over in Italy,” Fedrigo says. “It will all come to the UK in due course, including the concept of the Mobility Store which we are very interested in.”

While mobility offers additional options to corporates, the recovery of the company car sector is likely to stretch well into 2021. However, demand for light commercial vehicles has held up well during the pandemic thanks to the booming market in home delivered goods.

Fedrigo predicts demand will remain robust for the rest of the year as people continue to work from home and grow increasingly accustomed to ordering more products online. This will help Leasys to consolidate its business after three years of strong growth. Next year, it expects to be back in growth.

In the short-term, big opportunities exist with all FCA brands, as well as the personal contract hire market. Longer-term, the priority is to focus on the van sector and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs).

“This is where we are not fulfilling our potential,” says Fedrigo. “We are gearing up for electric and there’s real excitement in the business – it will revolutionise the way we look at small city cars and vans.”

*minimum annual payment £1,501. Offers shown valid until 30/09/20. Subject to status. T&Cs apply. Leasys UK Ltd, PO Box 4590, Slough, SL1 0WU