A growing number of leasing companies are spreading their wings into the retail sector.
Arval revealed plans earlier this year to offer PCH and maintenance services to the employees of existing customers who do not qualify for a company car, while in March Zenith launched Zen Auto, which offers PCH to any member of the public. Others have their own pilot schemes.
Interestingly, Zen Auto enables someone to select, order, go through credit check and have the purchase document emailed to them all online.
Zenith believes it is the future of car retailing in the consumer market.
Meanwhile, LeasePlan is launching CarNext.com, a used car leasing initiative to sell ex-fleet cars to the public, and Zenith intends to follow suit once it builds up sufficient stock from Zen Auto.
Such services put pressure on franchised dealers who could see valuable sources of income from car finance and used car sales eroding. Might they evolve into agents, paid a handling fee to deliver a service?
Elsewhere, Auto Trader is heading from retail into corporate with a new service to enable leasing companies to sell ex-fleet cars to dealers before they come off lease.
They are all eyeing up the opportunities offered by broadening their reach across the UK’s 37 million vehicle parc, not least as discussions hang in the air about the future of car ownership and usership and concerns about company car drivers being taxed out of the market.
As they exert greater control over a wider slice of the new car market, they will become responsible for remarketing higher volumes of used cars.
Ultimately, their influence across the auto industry will rise.