A new vehicle rental brand is launching with a focus on adaptability. 

Switch is being introduced as an independent business by Scot Group, which operates the Thrifty brand in the UK.

Switch is offering a range of flexible rental options, including short term, long term and flexi-rental, with further services coming in line with market requirements. It will serve SMEs and corporates, as well as personal customers.

Scot Group managing director Martin Wilson told Business Car that the decision to introduce a new brand was motivated by a need for agility to adapt to different business needs.

He said: “[We have run] the Thrifty brand in the UK very successfully over the last tens and tens of years, but it’s not our own brand.

“We realised not long after Covid that at some point we would have to develop our own brand, to make sure it’s something, one that we owned, two that we can scope and develop entirely independently, and three something that’s completely fresh into the marketplace.”

As well as the core corporate rental business, Wilson said investment was being made in technology for other areas for which customer demand was being seen, such as corporate car sharing.

He added: “Something else that we’re looking at is, and this is relatively small initially, we’ll be looking to give some of our customers a much longer-term product. 

“This is not going to worry the big leasing companies, this is just to give some of our customers the option to do things a bit longer-term.”

Wilson said the company was also investing in new in-house systems, removing the need to rely on third parties, and also said that customers would see an increasing number of self-service systems, with the aim of improving efficiency.

When asked how big a role EVs could play in the Switch offering, Wilson said: “We will have a share of EVs across our overall fleet which will gradually increase as demand increases. 

“We are seeing not a great deal of demand today, however we are seeing more and more opportunity for subscription or long-term rental for people that want to try EVs before they maybe want to purchase one. 

“Subscription has been a bit of a buzzword over the last however many years. We see it as a very simple product of a customer taking a month-on-month vehicle, and it’s how you make that as easy as possible, how we make it as easy as possible for an electric car driver. 

“That could mean anything from helping with charging points helping with charging card, and just making it as simple as possible for people who have never used the vehicles before.”

For short-term rental, Wilson explained that the barriers to EV adoption were greater.

He said: “If someone who doesn’t drive an electric car wants a vehicle for one or two days, it’s a bit more difficult because the customer may not know much about the charging infrastructure, may be a little bit daunted by that, and then if the vehicle comes back with very low charge in it then there is a downtime to charge the vehicle after that. 

“But we are investing, we have 20 sites that have electric charging points. The plan is that we will electrify the vast majority of our branches, but also where possible, where we own the site, we will look to add solar to that as well.”

Switch will operate from existing Thrifty sites, which will become jointly branded.

Regarding Thrifty, Wilson explained: “The current Thrifty customers will see no change at all, they’ll still get the same level of service, from the same people, at the same sites. “We have the Thrifty brand for the foreseeable future, and I’m talking years and years, so we have that for quite some time.”

Wilson said that one of the goals for Switch was to widen the company’s reach within the corporate market, which already makes up 95% of its UK business.

He added: “We’ve got a huge amount of experience in our business, we’ve got excellent staff who absolutely believe in the culture we have, and they’re really excited about it. They’re excited about something fresh and something new.”