THE first FN50 company to reach 200,000 vehicles could be just around the corner as companies look to acquisitions as their main source of growth.
This year's FN50 – published today – sees a record number of firms listing their fleet size as more than 100,000 funded vehicles, but that could just be the start of a seismic change in the industry over the next few years.
In 2000, just one company – LeasePlan – broke through the 100,000-vehicle barrier and remained the only company in the six-figure club in 2001.
But in 2002, consolidation in the industry meant this increased to three companies with more than 100,000 vehicles, with Lloyds TSB autolease on 137,000, LeasePlan on 124,778 and Interleasing on 103,000.
But this year, Lombard has joined the ranks of the new industry superleague, with 104,000 vehicles.
This means that a total FN50 fleet size of 1,359,210 vehicles, more than 35% (equivalent to 447,888 vehicles) is taken up by the top four firms.
They have all enjoyed significant growth in their fleet sizes, accounting for much of the 1.73% increase in the total size of the FN50 fleet.
Overall, this year's league table shows that 32 of the FN50 firms – or 64% - reported an increase in their fleet size, while 12 (24%) suffered a decrease in their fleet size with six (12%) remaining static.
A closer look at the figures reveals that the majority of the casualties lie at the bottom of the FN50 table.
Among the top 25 firms, 19 - or 76% - saw growth in their overall fleet size, with 5, (20%) falling and just 1 firm, whose figure is based on an editor's estimate, remaining static.
But in the bottom half of the table, the picture is less rosy, with 13 firms, or 52% of the bottom 25, revealing a fall in their fleet sizes, while just 7, or 28% of the bottom half, seeing a rise in fleet size, while a fifth remained static.
Among the top 10 players, all but two – Arval PHH and Business Partner – saw their fleet sizes increase.
At the top of the table, Lloyds TSB autolease continued its strong run of growth, building upon its acquisitions with the addition of more than 4,000 vehicles to reach a fleet size of 141,750 vehicles.
Lombard also showed very strong growth, increasing its fleet by more than 10,000 units, while Lex Vehicle Leasing also had a strong showing, with a jump of more than 8,000 units.
Despite the changes in fleet size among the top 10, there positions remain unchanged from last year.
Just outside, however, and the picture is very different. In 11th place is ALD Automotive, which has leapt from 18th following its purchase of Hertz Lease, which has taken its fleet to 41,753.
Citroen Contract Motoring, Toomey Hire and Leasing, Renault Financial Services, VELO and ING Car Lease have also jumped several places in the table.
Europcar Fleet Services is slightly down, with the biggest faller in the FN50 league table DaimlerChrysler Services Fleet Management, potentially representing a change in the way it represents the size of the fleet on which it takes residual value risk.
In the bottom half of the league table, some of the biggest winners include Vardy Contract Motoring, Pendragon Contracts, Nissan Business Finance, Bramall Contracts, Grosvenor Contracts Leasing, Marshall Leasing and Newtown Vehicle Rentals, who have all climbed up the table.
Fallers include Powermarque, which drops from the top half of the table to 44th and Toyota Financial Services.
Alliance & Leicester Commercial Finance is listed with 7,400 vehicles for the August 1 cut-off date for this survey, although its fleet size will fall since it announced it was closing to new business earlier this year.
Consolidation has meant several new entries, including Tuskerdirect and Fleet Hire.