The leasing market in the Netherlands has reaped the benefits of economic growth by increasing its business in 1999 by 15%. About 10% of all vehicles on the road are leased - some 565,000 units, of which 450,500 are passenger cars.
While the market is expanding, the level of competition is also increasing. And, in this context, internationalisation is one of the magic words. Through the development of business activities in other European countries, leasing companies are targeting the fleets of companies that operate internationally and which are introducing unified international guidelines to replace their current national fleet provisions.
The battle to attract business drivers on a national level is primarily fought on the basis of new services. The intention is obvious: differentiation in terms of service levels can contribute to the creation of a long-term relationship. Lease Plan - market leader with a registered fleet of more than 60,000 passenger cars – is investigating a so-called 'pick-up and drop' service.
This would require dealers to collect all cars that need servicing, in return for a fee that has still to be decided. The umbrella organisation that represents official car dealers, the NDA, is concerned that this 'collection and delivery' service will develop into a facility that will ultimately lead to servicing being undertaken by a limited number of dealers. In return, these dealers would be forced to offer attractive discounts, putting their margins under pressure.
Leasing companies are also perfecting levels of automation. Account reviews are usually supplied electronically, sometimes via the Internet. Insurance and financing are offered as separate components, making it possible to compare the final lease price as a whole or by individual item. In short, it is inevitable that leasing companies will increasingly become centres of knowledge, purchasing and administration.
Overall, the outlook is buoyant for the Dutch business car market. Of all new cars sold in 1999, one third were for business use, and the combined business/fleet market reached 205,510 passenger cars, or 33% of the record 611,775 units registered during the year.
Leasing companies registered 145,702 new cars in 1999, 13.9% up on 1998 and accounting for 23.8% of the new car market, according to the VNA (Vereniging van Nederlandse Autoleasemaatschappijen/ The Association of Dutch Auto Lease companies) and the Bovag (garage company association). The commercial vehicle sector, with growth of 20.6% to 82,000 units, showed the highest performance.