Vehicle leasing and fleet management companies have been under unrelenting pressure over recent years to adapt to increasing pace of change in an unpredictable business environment.
At one level there is the need to comply with a whole spectrum of legislation, from financial regulatory and compliance to environmental legislation while at another level there are the opportunities and challenges arising from innovation and development.
Technological innovation in areas such as Telematics offer companies the ability to enhance finance products and to develop valueadded services while new mobility solutions like urban car-pooling requires new business models to support them. Then there are the challenges and uncertainties posed by the future growth in electric vehicles (EVs). While hybrid vehicles pose limited residual risk compared to conventional vehicles, pure EVs such as the Nissan Leaf, Peugeot iOn and Renault Z.E range pose a whole new set of challenges in areas such as battery financing and funding for charging infrastructures.
Finally there is the impact of the recession itself. After experiencing a massive decline in new business volumes (Leaseurope showed a 27% fall for cars and 39% reduction for commercial vehicles in 2009), the European market is showing some signs of recovery, through growth is slow and patchy. As economies emerge from recession there is optimism amongst vehicle leasing and fleet management companies. Emerging markets continue to demonstrate healthy growth in both private and commercial vehicles.
While leasing in these markets poses significant risks still, countries such as China are attempting to develop the legislative frameworks and credit reference infrastructure to enable leasing to be offered to the private and small business markets. And there are signs of recovery in the mature markets of the West with vehicle sales in Europe, if not at levels seen at the economic peak in 2008-9, at least returning to the volumes seen around 2006. Consequently vehicle leasing and fleet management companies are starting to reinvest in their businesses.
There is a widespread recognition that, after three years of retrenchment, there are opportunities for growth and development. In order to realise these opportunities however, organisations are having to change as the old strategies and operational infrastructure can no longer support the more complex and dynamic requirements of the postfinancial crisis business environment in which they are now operating. This transformation is being supported by investment in systems and technology which will underpin the re-engineered processes and new business models required to implement new strategies.
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