Tips on Leasing Your LCV

Business Insights

John Webb, principal consultant at Lex Autolease gives tips on leasing an LCV .

“Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) are an essential business tool - without a reliable fleet of vans, many businesses and public sector organisations could not operate. The variety of roles across both public and private organisations means the fleet buyer must balance the need to provide drivers with LCVs that are fit for purpose and value for money while running the most efficient fleet possible across a range of functional requirements.

“Choosing the right van for each role is essential, but cost is a vital factor when considering new LCVs for leasing. However, it’s not just the upfront outlay that must be taken into account – the whole-life cost of a particular vehicle can have a far greater bearing on a company’s bottom line over a van’s three, four or five-year operating cycle. There is a huge range of LCV makes, models and derivatives on offer, together with service, maintenance and repair packages to consider. Making the correct choice can be a complex challenge for the fleet buyer, but it’s vital that the procurement process takes all these factors, and more, into account”.

Procurement dos and don’ts

“There are a number of considerations organisations should make during the fleet procurement process. Before going out to tender for LCVs, a business should consult with its key stakeholders and most importantly, the drivers. Working with vehicles day-to-day provides a valuable insight into what requirements should be considered to deliver the right solution. Companies must also look at a range of factors, from the suitability for loading and unloading to whether the vehicle weights are in line with regulations.

“Conducting thorough research into LCVs on the market and speaking to manufacturers, leasing companies and vehicle converters is an important step for businesses to take. A formal Request for Information (RFI) to these organisations can provide a more structured approach to understanding the market.

“Fleet buyers should avoid over specification, which can often result in procuring vans that don’t precisely meet the needs of the organisation and result in avoidable costs. They should use the expertise in the supply chain by making enquiries about what activity they want a vehicle to undertake and then be open to innovative ways of meeting that need. Requesting quotes for every vehicle on the market, for example, can be a significant and unnecessary burden on a business and make the whole process overly time consuming.

“A frequent mistake buyers make is to repeat the status quo. Organisations should ask leasing companies to bring targeted added value to the fleet in terms of service and cost. If there is a target for cost reduction or reduced downtime then it should be included in the tender. Likewise, organisations should be open to challenges from suppliers if a different solution can be offered that delivers a better fit for a business. Lex Autolease has qualified fleet engineers and in-house consultants who can design bespoke solutions and financial analysis to help the process and ensure customers choose the right vehicles.

“Companies will often need to convert their vehicles for specific tasks. But this process, which can include fitting complex racking and storage systems, can take time, often weeks. In addition to the inconvenience, this leaves firms paying rental on two vans as the older vehicle is retained to carry on business. A better option is to tender for a fully-fitted van through a leasing agreement, which provides the company with a vehicle that can deliver a return on investment from day one.”

Going electric

“With the Government’s launch of its Clean Growth Strategy, it has signaled its commitment to moving towards low carbon transport. The introduction of low emission zones in five UK cities, with more looking likely to follow suit, means fleets really need to start considering a greener vehicle policy now. However, the choice of electric vans is limited at present with the majority suited to inner city transport and low mileage ranges.

“The right electric van is the one that potentially saves the business money, reduces environmental impact and doesn’t restrict the operation. For some fleets, this may mean a mix of fuel types to deliver the variety of duties required. Electric vans are suitable for regular and low mileages, though ranges and charging infrastructure are improving. We would always recommend a demo van to give a business the opportunity to evaluate an electric van, its role within the fleet and address any work needed to install charging points.

“Driver training is also essential. Payload and driver behaviour will influence the range of an electric van. For example aggressive driving or even high heater use in winter can reduce available range.

“Although electric vans can be more expensive upfront, the whole life costs of the latest models are coming down and in some cases are more cost-effective than a diesel or petrol van. Charging is, unsurprisingly, less expensive than conventional fuel. The technology in electric vehicles also has fewer moving parts, which means they are less likely to breakdown or need parts replacing, reducing maintenance costs too.”