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UK vehicle rental and leasing industry ready to adapt to challenges of 2019

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Rental and leasing companies are laying the groundwork for a productive and secure long-term future, according to the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association’s new Industry Outlook 2019 Report.

Although the next year will be a very challenging period, with nine key areas of disruption identified in the report, there is clear evidence that BVRLA members are seizing the initiative, instead of waiting for an upturn in the economy or government support.

The BVRLA unveiled its Industry Outlook 2019 Report in front of more than 170 industry leaders at the association’s annual conference.

The nine key challenges identified were:

  1. The long road to zero – Fleet industry opinion is united on seeing a future dominated by electric powertrains. The big questions now are not ‘if’ the industry gets there, but ‘how’ and ‘when’.
  2. The last mile – The traditional ‘hub and spoke’ method of delivery is coming under pressure from cities looking to reduce the congestion, emissions and safety risks associated with large, diesel-powered vehicles. Can urban consolidation centres, inner-city micro distribution depots and e-cargo bikes and vans come to the rescue?
  3. Used market urgency – Electric vehicles, Brexit, diesel demonisation and WLTP are all contributing to an uncertain outlook for used vehicle prices through early 2019. Current market sentiment is that any price changes will be small rather than seismic.
  4. Diving into data – Policymakers will come under increasing pressure to legislate for greater access to vehicle data. Meanwhile, prognostics (proactively identifying issues as they occur or taking pre-emptive action using connected vehicle data) is set to become the new must-have fleet management service.
  5. Brexit – Rather than just speculate over the potential for one of many ‘Deal’ or ‘No Deal’ scenarios, BVRLA members are focused on what they can do to prepare themselves and their customers for the unexpected.
  6. Car subscriptions – As the boundaries between rental and leasing continue to blur, car subscriptions are receiving a mixed response. Are they Car Rental 2.0 or a proposition that isn’t financially viable?
  7. Up close and personal – BVRLA members are embracing digital technology and the chance to engage directly with personal and SME clients. Some companies predict that up to 50% of new business could come from these channels in the next two years, through products such as personal contract hire.
  8. Urban mobility – The scale of potential Clean Air Zone non-compliance will cause some local authorities to delay or adjust their plans in 2019. BVRLA members are expecting more competition from a range of urban mobility providers and a major improvement in public EV charging infrastructure.
  9. Repairability – The number of accidents and repairs may be falling, but the costs associated with them are going in the other direction. New materials, sensors and electric powertrains are all having a massive impact on repairability.

BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney said: “The vehicle rental and leasing industry continues to see opportunities everywhere.

“It is perfectly placed to deliver the revolution in autonomous, connected and electric mobility and is already benefitting from growing demand for vehicle usership rather than ownership.

“Members are increasingly going direct, whether it is engaging with local transport policymakers, remarketing their own vehicles or talking directly with a new generation of personal and SME customers.

“They may not be able to fulfil every mobility services need right now, but they are keeping a very open mind about what is possible and spotting new ways of adding value. Whether it is electric vehicles, prognostics data, last mile logistics or car subscriptions, members are increasingly willing to explore new business models, technology platforms and partnerships.”

To prepare the report, the BVRLA spoke to 19 fleet industry leaders during November 2018 to obtain their opinions on key topics likely to affect the industry in the coming year.

Download the BVRLA Industry Outlook 2019 Report

BVRLA industry outlook repo