Things have moved so quickly in terms of product, as there are more BMW and Mini EV models being launched. We ask BMW Group general manager of corporate sales Matt Collins if most fleet business is coming from there?

He says: “The i5 has been well-received, we’re really pleased with that reception, and to be able to follow that up with the incoming Touring, so quickly. But there’s a lot of growth in other segments of the market, with iX1, iX2, and new Mini Countryman. 

“We don’t want to overcomplicate the range, but what we’re trying to do is bring out more fleet-relevant models. So, this is part of the reason why we’ve announced the iX2 20 now, so straight away there will be a 20 available. It gives fleets the confidence that they can order the 20 from a price-point perspective. 

“Also, with the i5, we’ve announced the ‘Sport Edition,’ on saloon and Touring. So, the same range, but a lower P11D – so greater eligibility and lower payment, from a customer point of view. Then, there’s the new Mini Countryman and the new Mini Cooper BEV models.”

The latest iX2 isn’t the model that will make you convert to EV. Instead, Collins sees it as a different option for fleets that want to go EV.

He says: “Underneath it’s the same platform as the iX1, but it does look very different, with a very different character, but it still has the same sort of range, and similar equipment. 

“I think there’s a market for business buyers that want a BMW BEV in this kind of segment size. They say, “this is what I’m eligible for, or what my payment needs to be – but I want it to look sportier, or a bit different, or maybe I’ve had a saloon in the past.” Now they’ve got that option, and I think with the price point so close to iX1, customers can access the sportier version without a dramatic change in their payment – because there’s only an average of £1,300 difference. So, on a 36/60 the payments are very similar. Now we’ve got the eDrive20 for both, we expect most of the fleet volume for iX1 and iX2, to move over to that.” 

In respect of the corporate opportunity for the new Mini Countryman, he says: “We did very well with the Countryman PHEV, and we’ve had a lot of customers telling us that they like the Countryman concept, and the idea of a Mini brand SUV, but they’d like to go full electric, as their fleet policy is BEV only. 

“They’re very excited that we’ve gone from PHEV to BEV effectively for Countryman. Also, Mini – it’s such an iconic brand, and we’ve had some great reactions from fleets saying they love the brand, but we’ve not had the product to work for them. Or the electric range isn’t big enough, or the physical size of the car doesn’t work practically speaking. Now we can say that Mini is a legitimate corporate opportunity, this is a brand that you can put on your fleet confidently knowing we’ve got different sizes, different flavours, and a range approaching 300 miles for the EV that’s very competitive, yet the price point is very comparable with the previous generation.” 

We then talk about Collins’s other focuses for this year – apart from product.

He says: “We want to offer our customers, leascos, and retailers, a bigger offering. We’ve got the product, but we’ve also got the sustainability credentials – which we can quantify, with real data. We can show the vehicle footprint data for i5, we’ve also got that data for iX2. So, if you’re a leaseco, you can see how much CO2 has been generated to bring this iX2 in front of them. So, we’re trying to quantify the sustainability claims to help support our customers’ own internal ESG objectives.

“Then there’s the technology interface with the app, there’s the aftersales side of the business – with Corporate Service Inclusive, and Proactive Care. We don’t want to neglect that, it’s important as to how you manage the fleet, and the ownership phase. 

“Then there’s the Corporate Certified programme, that we’re expanding this year. It is a bigger network across the country, and all to the same standard – so wherever you go, whichever retailer you go to, being a corporate customer, you can expect the same level of service. 

“The majority of our direct sales volume is now handled through a certified retailer. Last year was the first year of Corporate Certified, now we’re into the second year, it’s properly established. It is a more coherent platform – as it’s now part of the whole offering. Now we’re saying to fleet customers that if you do business with BMW or Mini, you don’t just get the product, you get authentic sustainability, you get the service performance, you get the retailer support network, so we’re offering you greater relationship or partnership, as a brand. 

“It would be easy to rest on our product laurels, but we know there’s much more to it than that. So, the focus for this year, is where we can support our customers across the board – rather than just with individual cars.  

“With electrification, and continued market expansion, the ZEV mandate is a big focus. We effectively were ahead last year of where we needed to be this year for BMW, but ultimately to achieve that mandate as a country, more fleets need to electrify. We need to help with that transition, so we’re working on tools or aids, so that we can help, but part of that is in Corporate Certified. 

“When customers pick up their BEV, from a Corporate Certified retailer they get a handover which talks you through this. How the app works, how to set up their charger on the app – it’s a more in-depth handover – which is what our customer tell us their drivers need. Forty-eight hours later they’ll get a follow-up from the retailer. This is what Corporate Certified is trying to do, managing the uncertainty of moving to BEV, we’re trying to bring it all into a joined-up approach. 

“Whether a fleet decision-maker, or the end user. If you’re doing business with us, you’re getting that comprehensive approach rather than just saying here’s a new product.”