ALD Automotive: Flexible future for leasing
22 December 2016
Author: Tom Webster
The rise of personal contact purchase (PCP) and similar monthly payment options have revolutionised the automotive market in recent years, but there is more change on the way for the leasing industry.
Companies such as ALD Automotive are looking at ways in which they could give more flexibility and freedom to both fleet managers and their drivers, with several new products being rolled out elsewhere in the world, which could then make their way to the UK.
ALD has launched two concepts in the Netherlands, called ALD Choice, and ALD Free, and both allow much more in the way of options for employees. In order to allow their staff a greater degree of variety, ALD Choice requires a fleet manager to hand over a degree of control over to the leasing company.
By talking through a fleet's need and then allowing ALD control over which cars it then provides, the company is able to combine an insight into the sort of cars that are popular with corporate drivers with a buying power afforded by bulk purchasing to keep costs as low as possible.
Rather than paying a lease fee per car, the company pays a fixed fee per employee. ALD then offers a selection of cars online through a 'digital showroom,' and the employee gets to choose what they want to run from the eligible models. Crucially, ALD offers flexibility on a number of different elements, including length of contract, size of car and even on whether to go for new or used.
"Within this web shop you have contracts starting from three months so as a driver you can decide for yourself - 'I want a bigger car for a longer period, or a smaller car for a short period'," explains regional manager for ALD Automotive Benelux, Carel Bal.
As good as used
It is ALD Choice's most unusual feature that means drivers can choose from used models as well as new - it pools cars from several companies, and creates a mega fleet that allows more choice. If a driver takes a car for a three-month period, it then goes back into the pool at the end of the term, and another employee at any of the companies in the scheme is able to then elect to drive the used car. By opting for a used car, the employee is able to get access to models that would normally be in a higher bracket than their status would ordinarily allow.
It puts second-hand and new lease vehicles on one platform. "We can offer second-hand vehicles so you are in reach of vehicles, such as bigger cars, that would normally be out of your reach," according to ALD's chief administration officer John Saffrett. "There are advantages for the company and the driver."
But there are likely to be even more radical schemes in the future, with employees' mobility options
set to go beyond the private car. ALD Free, and similar concepts from Finnish company MaaS Global, allow the monthly 'lease' fee to be applied across a wide range of different transport options.
Company employees would get their transport allowance in the form of a mobility passport, that can be used to access short-term hire cars, public transport such as trains or buses, or even e-bike and conventional cycle-hire schemes where available.
MaaS Global has launched a phone app, called Whim, in Helsinki that allows users to travel on public transport and use taxis and rental cars for a fixed monthly price of ?249. A pay-as-you-go option is expected to be rolled out before the end of 2016. ALD Free works in a similar way, and is set to also include parking costs.
However, the products are not likely to be launched in the UK at the same time as their Dutch and Finnish counterparts, with Saffrett saying that there is more of a demand for the traditional single car lease for the time being. "We are not seeing the UK market evolve towards mobility services as much as we are in continental Europe, so at the moment I think they are probably targeted towards the end of 2017," he said. "If the market demands it we will bring it out sooner."
But with 700 drivers on ALD Choice's platform in the Netherlands already, this is an option that could grow.