Fleet News

Flexibility is at the heart of new leasing provider Sogo

Fleet demand for vehicle contracts with greater flexibility has paved the way for newcomer Sogo to launch as a disrupter in the car leasing sector.

Led by former Citroen UK managing director Karl Howkins, Sogo aims to provide “ultra-flexible” leasing with contracts to suit a wide range of fleet requirements.

The company, which officially launched in January, aims to have a fleet of around 5,000 vehicles in its first year of trading.

“Our research shows that customers are demanding increasingly flexible leases and, of course, value.

“We believe our business model combines fantastic service and cutting-edge technology to deliver an industry-leading service for small businesses and the iPhone generation alike,” Howkins said.

Sogo provides new and nearly new cars on flexible contracts, with a minimum term of one month. Howkins believes there are benefits to all businesses, from SMEs to large corporates, and says the company can provide a range of vehicles from A segment to supercars and commercials.

A salary sacrifice solution is also being developed, with the same flexible element, which aims to overcome the common issue of what to do with vehicles when employees leave a business mid-contract.

By offering additional flexibility, Howkins expects to attract clients that would otherwise use rental or pool fleets for shorter term hires, as well as those that use traditional leasing for their company fleets.

Howkins said: “If you win a contract, that contract could be for six or nine or 12 months, it might not be for two or three years. So, why get into a long-term leasing solution when you don't need to?”

Unlike rental, Sogo does not offer daily or even weekly hires rental. The absolute minimum commitment is a month. This means its pricing can be closer aligned to a conventional BCH arrangement or PCP for private customers.

“We'd like people to have vehicles longer than that,” explained Howkins. “The anticipation is most will be three, four or five months upwards.”

But, the company also wants to keep its vehicles fresh, so nobody will have a car that's older than 12 months or a van older than 18 months. That means drivers who opt for longer leases will still get a new car every year, regardless of their contract length.

In order to manage its fleet, Sogo fits all vehicles with telematics. This ensures it can look after the maintenance and manage mileages remotely, but also offer traditional telematics services to fleets, such as tracking and driver monitoring.

Howkins said a full fleet management provision is also on the cards and could be launched once the company starts to grow.

The new company is backed by dealer group Cambria Automobiles and operates nationally via a network of logistics hubs and a customer service centre in Milton Keynes.

An in house remarketing team looks after vehicle disposal and the business can also make use of the 44 retail sites within the Cambria network.

For vehicles that get returned early, Howkins said the company will look to re-lease them after they’ve been reconditioned.

In keeping with its focus on flexibility, Howkins is keen to speak to fleet operators about their requirements and develop possible solutions.

He said: “I'm a firm believer in talking to customers as quickly as possible. So, if you ring us you don't have to press 15 different numbers to talk to someone we pick the phone up and we can discuss your requirements.”

There is also a website and mobile app that enables vehicles to be acquired in a matter of minutes.

Fleet industry veteran Maurice Howkins joined the business as corporate sales director last month

His fleet industry career includes 50 years at car brand Vauxhall and a further eight years at General Motors, where he held a Europe-wide corporate sales directorship.

He will be responsible for growing corporate sales at SOGO and will work closely with the sales team to pass on his years of experience.

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