Looking through some of the largest van fleets in the UK, fewer choose to procure vehicles through contract hire than purchase them outright.
Analysis from the Fleet200 reveals that even many of those with company car schemes funded through contract hire often prefer to buy LCVs.
According to Simon Cook, leader of GE Capital Fleet Services vans division, one of the reasons for this is that few leasing companies have a strong reputation for commercial vehicles, or for understanding the specific needs of van operators.
He tells Fleet Van: “There is a big difference between cars and vans, not least a requirement from customers of an understanding of any issues surrounding ancillary equipment. Vans are always tools for the job. It’s an area that is much misunderstood.”
Cook is a former general manager of TLS (GE Capital’s van rental division which was wound down in 2009), and has more than 25 years’ experience in the commercial vehicle arena.
He says: “More than 18 months ago, our fleet business sought to understand and provide a bespoke van offering for customers. Many of our fleet customers operate vans alongside company cars.
“I have both van experience and GE knowledge. We set up a dedicated van team in the fleet department and now have what we call a centre of excellence for vans.
“The team deals with specific enquiries, consult with, order, progress, deliver and account manage everything van.
“We intend to grow LCV fleet alongside our car fleet, and vans will not merely be a ‘bolt-on’ part of our fleet.”
Cook says GE Capital currently provides customers with more than 2,000 vans, suggesting this is a substantial size for a leasing company in the UK. It’s part of a global fleet of more than 200,000 vans.
Van Excellence programme accreditation
GE Capital was the first leasing company to be awarded accreditation to the Freight Transport Association’s Van Excellence programme.
The initiative is industry led and aims to improve standards of van operator compliance and highlight operators who demonstrate excellence and represent the interests of the van industry.
To achieve the Van Excellence certificate, organisations must prove their ability through an audit by the FTA.
This was something targeted by Cook and his team at an early stage to ensure its services and activities were given independent approval by a high-profile commercial vehicle industry body.
“We were given Van Excellence accreditation at the Commercial Vehicle Show in 2011,” says Cook.