Nexus Vehicle Rental’s IRIS platform was first developed over 20 years ago, and it was designed to revolutionise rental by creating a single source to access a large network of vehicle suppliers. 

Since its launch, IRIS has undergone several industry-first updates and changes throughout the years. Firstly with a dedicated HGV system in 2017, followed by a single-source EV platform in 2020 and most recently in October 2021, Nexus added plant hire to its supply portfolio. It now connects businesses to more than 550,000 vehicles across 2,000 locations and enables customers to self-serve, putting them in control of the entire rental process. 

Nexus CEO David Brennan says: “At the height of the pandemic, organisations up and down the country were having to wrangle with new challenges in relation to lockdown and social distancing measures. Businesses across a variety of sectors – including utilities, logistics and construction – needed to rapidly increase their fleet capacity in a time when government restrictions meant that vehicle sharing was not compliant with safety guidelines. 

“By using IRIS, businesses were able to upscale their fleets quickly to meet the increased demand and to ensure they were working in line with government guidance. 

“In October 2021, we reached a milestone three millionth vehicle rental booking on our IRIS platform, following a record year of trading and our commitment to investing in tech to keep up with the ever-growing demands of the market. Of course, the vehicle hire industry was already a vital part of the supply chain for businesses pre-pandemic, but interest in IRIS has soared given it provides access to the UK’s largest vehicle supply chain and allows scale-up of fleets quickly whilst mitigating costs.”

IRIS might have been developed 20 years ago, but it still seems like a product of its time, and Brennan explains how it works. 

“IRIS essentially allows Nexus customers to control every aspect of their rental fleet, whilst the pioneering Management Information (MI) suite spot trends in vehicle usage to identify efficiencies in rental solutions. This technology is used to support some of the UK’s largest fleets across the logistics, construction, retail, and utility sectors. 

“IRIS helps to minimise booking errors, enables customers to self-serve, and puts them in control of the entire rental process. Automation means that 90% of bookings involve no human interaction at all and new bookings can be made in just 30 seconds, enabling full visibility of the whole rental management system. 

“In addition to providing users with full visibility of their rental fleet, Nexus customers can also take advantage of further benefits. This includes using the IRIS platform to manage invoicing and rental spend, manage and report damage claims or fines and to identify any potentially bad drivers that are operating vehicles within the fleet. Being able to access this high level of information in one place is vital for customers to ensure that nothing gets missed and all issues related to the fleet can be dealt efficiently. 

“In October of this year, we were awarded Best fleet software product for the IRIS platform at the Business Car Awards, which, for more than a decade, have recognised excellence in the automotive fleet sector to reward innovation and fleet expertise among suppliers and fleet operators.”

Brennan recognises that throughout the pandemic, many UK businesses were presented with unique challenges affecting communities up and down the country. Retailers – particularly supermarkets – experienced an unprecedented demand for home deliveries requiring room to flex their fleets, ensuring the mobility of their supply chains as the situation developed. 

“Whilst the vehicle hire industry was already a vital part of the supply chain pre-pandemic, the last eighteen months have highlighted the importance of businesses being able to remain flexible, agile and react to changes quickly. Flexible rental is an ideal way for businesses to rapidly scale-up their fleets, whilst mitigating costs. Flexible rental gives businesses the freedom to adapt their fleet size depending on demand and other requirements. 

“As businesses and the wider UK economy begin their recovery from the pandemic, it is likely that they will continue to use rental in order to reduce any upfront, hefty costs of replacing fleet vehicles or scaling up during busier periods. For example, as we approach Christmas time, many retailers and logistics companies require additional vehicles in order to meet higher levels of demand for deliveries.”

Brennan admits that in the past 20 years, Nexus successfully carved its market niche by applying technology to meet industry trends and customer demands. But he’s mindful of the future. “When Nexus first launched its dedicated HGV platform in 2017, it was an industry first. It includes electric vehicles, specialist and commercial vehicles, HGVs and one day, autonomous vehicles. Most recently and in response to rising customer demand, coupled with the challenges facing the marketplace in 2021, we have added plant hire to our supply portfolio. 

“As we move ever closer to the upcoming ban on petrol and diesel vehicles in 2030, many individuals and businesses will be looking for alternative, greener mobility solutions and we are committed to supporting our customers make this switch. We are always looking to introduce new, mobility solutions to help overcome and mitigate the issues that are affecting the fleet and wider automotive industry. 

“Most recently, Nexus has developed a new taxi service Nexus Go, a flexible solution to meet the changing needs of moving people whilst meeting business objectives – to provide a complete business mobility package. Nexus is launching this new passenger and taxi booking service in partnership with CMAC and it will be available for Nexus customers to use from December. Users will have access to an online taxi booking portal that provides journey progress and location updates, access to over 2,500 taxi companies throughout the UK and GPS tracking facility via Google Maps. Through IRIS, Nexus Go users will also be able to consolidate billing to incorporate journey fees and ancillary charges in full and have access to the customer management reporting suite in both on and offline accessible formats. 

“In the coming years, we will continue to develop and broaden our service offering to provide the newest innovations to the market, whilst supporting our customers’ needs.”