THE current Covid-19 situation is throwing up all sorts of questions for SMEs, Leasing Brokers and customers.
High on the list of these issues is meeting lease payments along with the collection and delivery of vehicles.
In these difficult times it’s a struggle to keep businesses running smoothly but it’s important not to forget about your company vehicles. Synergy Car Leasing has some helpful advice:
What if I am unable to make my lease payments?
If you have any concerns regarding continuing your payments, speak to your finance provider directly. They will be able to discuss your individual situation and requirements with you.
Some finance providers are taking an extended amount of time to answer their phones and respond to emails.
Finance companies are regularly updating their websites with the latest Covid-19 support, information and contact details. For more information, visit your finance provider’s website:
|Finance Provider||Customer Service Number||Website|
|ALD Driver Assistance||08000 32 3277||https://www.aldautomotive.com/|
|Alphabet||0370 5050 135||https://www.alphabet.com/|
|Arval Driver Helpline||0370 600 4499||https://www.arval.co.uk/|
|Close Brothers Contract Hire||0161 888 2818||www.close-leasing.co.uk|
|Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions Assistance||0344 463 2900||https://www.hitachicapitalvehiclesolutions.co.uk/|
|Leaseplan Driveline||0344 493 7644||https://www.leaseplan.com/|
|Leasys Assistance||03445 614 611||https://www.leasys.com/|
|Lex Autolease||0344 824 0707||https://www.lexautolease.co.uk/|
|Mercedes-Benz Financial Services (MBFS)||0370 847 0700||https://www.mbfs.com/|
|MNH Maintenance Driver Helpline||01254 244 244||https://www.maintenancepacks.com/|
|PSA Finance (Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Vauxhall)||0345 313 3805||https://www.psa-finance.co.uk/|
|Santander Consumer Contract Hire Assistance||0330 134 8751||https://www.santanderconsumer.co.uk/finance-that-fits/car-finance/personal-customers/personal-contract-hire/|
|Volvo Finance||0800 0851 759||https://www.vfsco.com/en-en/contact-us.html|
|Volkswagen Financial Services (VWFS – Audi, VW, Skoda, Seat)||0370 010 2022||https://customer.vwfs.co.uk/|
My service and/or my MOT is due on my current lease vehicle, do I need to have it serviced/an MOT?
MOTs are being extended for 6 months, and many garages are only undertaking critical repairs. Garages also need to adhere to social distancing and increased hygiene measures when the car is dropped at the garage and when it is collected.
It is unlikely you will be able to wait in the garage for any repairs to be completed.
If your car is due for a service, we suggest you check with your finance provider if they require the service to be done or if they are happy to wait.
If you are a key worker and your car requires servicing or critical repairs, please inform your finance provider and ask for assistance.
Synergy Car Leasing said it is keen to keep its customers moving and has a team available to help telephone 01423-228280 and email [email protected]
I have an order for a new lease vehicle placed with Synergy, when will I receive my car?
Synergy said it remains open and will continue to provide the most up-to-date information regarding vehicle orders, and offer help and advice with existing contracts. Its team is working securely and remotely.
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday 23rd March to announce restrictions to non-essential retail in order to reduce the spread of Covid-19, Synergy anticipates that, in the majority of cases, cars booked or expected for delivery from 24.3.20 to 14.4.20 will not be delivered.
When the situation is clearer or changes, it will provide further updates and arrange deliveries as quickly as possible
I have an end-of-contract car which is due for collection, when will my car be collected?
Due to the Prime Minister’s announcement on 23rd March to restrict non-essential travel, we anticipate that end-of-contract cars which are due for collection will not be collected from 24.3.20 to 14.4.20.
This, again, is for your safety and our suppliers’ safety in respect of social distancing rules.
Synergy recommends maintaining adequate insurance cover for your vehicle until normal collections can be resumed.
Any concerns regarding your current lease payment, please contact your finance provider directly.
My contract is due to end, can I continue to use my current lease vehicle?
With the restrictions on deliveries of new vehicles, Synergy expects you may want to continue using your existing vehicle. You can still use your current vehicle, provided it is insured, and your finance provider will make a pro-rated charge. This solution means there is no initial rental to outlay for a new vehicle at this time.
Leasing comnpanies can also advise you on the possibility of formally extending your contract so get in touch with your Account Manager.
Can I lease a brand new car during the Coronavirus epidemic?
Synergy said you can sill browse its website, speak to its team and order online and over the phone, document administration is via email or online portal. While the company still has stock vehicles and the ability to place factory orders, however, at this time, it is unable to confirm delivery timescales.
Can my new lease vehicle be delivered safely to my door?
Currently deliveries are on hold due to the UK government’s restrictions on non-essential travel and social distancing.
Will the order of my new lease vehicle be delayed?
The automotive market is one of the world’s most connected supply chains, and some factories around the world are halting production for a few weeks to protect their staff.
In addition, with travel restrictions across international borders and in the UK, it is likely that there may be some delay to vehicle orders.
Synergy said it will continue its proactive communication with customers to provide the most update information on the timescale for your new lease vehicle.
My lease is coming to an end, what are my options?
Speak to your Account Manager. Synergy’s team, like many others, is working securely and remotely, and have access to the very latest information from our range of finance providers and vehicle suppliers.
Depending on the type of contract, look to extend your current lease for a short period.
Rememer also, now more than ever, business need a strong online presence and engagement with social media.
Further Guidance on maintaining continuity, reducing operating costs and, above all else, keeping drivers safe, comes from Fleet Logistics UK which has around 180,000 vehicles under its care.
FLUK has identified some initial areas for businesses to consider and act upon with many in lockdown or operating at reduced capacity.
Look into contract extensions
Fleets should consider asking their leasing company for informal or formal vehicle contract extensions, rather than returning vehicles at the end of contract and replacing them. The leasing companies are ready to offer support to both their business and personal clients.
An informal extension would only apply to vehicles coming to the end of their contract. These vehicles may be extended on a month-by-month basis while the crisis lasts. This delivers flexibility at the current lease and maintenance cost, without any disruption for drivers.
For businesses able to commit short term, formal extensions of typically 6 or 12 months should be considered. This provides ongoing monthly budgeted costs for both finance and maintenance costs.
As contracts are being extended over a longer term, monthly rentals are reduced. This approach is likely to be supported by the leasing company as it provides them with continuity of income.
Consider keeping vehicles registered before April 6th that impact less on both Benefit in Kind tax for drivers and Class 1 NIC costs for the business. Also, remember that vehicles with less than 110g/km of CO2 are not affected by the lease rental restriction, meaning 100% of their leasing costs can be offset. Your fleet management provider will be happy to discuss these points in more detail.
Consider contract re-writes
There may be major savings to be had from re-writing contracts based on accurate actual mileages for each driver. This is particularly relevant to fleets still writing contracts on benchmark parameters.
Take, for example, a typical 36 month/20,000 mile per annum contract where drivers may only be driving 10,000 miles a year. By reducing the contract mileage to 10,000 miles per annum, this will result in lower costs to the leasing company, meaning lower rentals and maintenance costs to their clients.
During lockdown, most vehicles will be off the road, meaning this year’s mileage may be even further reduced.
Businesses, or their suppliers, should identify those under-mileage drivers and the contracts that can be re-written, as the savings can be considerable. This applies even in a pooled mileage situation where contracts can be rewritten to reduce any overall surplus in fleet mileage. If in doubt, talk to you fleet management provider or leasing company.
Avoid early terminations
Early terminations incur a penalty charge so should be avoided if at all possible. If no other solution can be found, return vehicles close to the end of their contracts to minimise the charges. Investigate, if possible, re-allocating or swapping vehicles to different parts of the business, or between drivers, to avoid these potentially punitive charges.
How to treat short or mid-term rentals
Currently, rental vehicles are classed as an essential service and provide the ability to source vehicles quickly if needed. Key services are prioritised so turnaround times may be affected unless your business falls into this category.
If there are now surplus vehicles on your fleet, consider returning short-term rental vehicles first. They offer flexibility; however, they also represent an often more expensive mobility option and can usually be returned without penalty.
For instance, where there are new employees, who may be waiting for delivery of their company car, look to surplus pool vehicles first or to leased vehicles near their contract end date, as these may be informally or formally extended as described above.
Again, your fleet management provider can provide advice on this.
Tackle your fuel bills
With the collapse in world oil prices and fuel cuts at the pumps, this is a good time to renegotiate fuel prices being paid, especially fuel that is being bought in volume.
Fuel is the largest day-to-day operating cost on the company fleet and often businesses lack control over the price paid.
Even supermarket pricing, typically the cheapest retail purchasing opportunity, can be more expensive than a negotiated corporate deal on a set weekly rate directly with the source. It is worth investigating options.
For fleets with fixed term fuel contracts, or in the process of tendering for them, different options, such as hedging or capping which are typically relevant to large commercial fleets, could provide certainty over fuel spend and help when projecting costs over a fixed term.
Hedging is a contractual tool that large fuel-consuming fleets can use to reduce their exposure to volatile fuel prices. Your fleet management provider can again talk you through the options.
Managing servicing, maintenance and MOTs
It is important to ensure that vehicles are maintained, serviced and MOT’d for driver and public safety, and in line with manufacturer warranties to preserve cover.
Businesses should set up reminders to ensure those drivers that require servicing or MOTs to be carried out when normalcy return actually have the work completed. This will ensure they meet their duty of care obligations in ensuring their vehicles are fit for purpose and warranties remain unaffected.
Sue Branston, Country Head for Fleet Logistics UK and Ireland, said that in these challenging times, there is the opportunity to make changes that will allow businesses to run their fleets more cost-effectively and efficiently through this difficult period as well as in the future.
“We are working with our clients to reduce their running costs, re-write their contracts using our matrix leasing solution and cut their fuel bills, as well as costs in other areas of their supply chain. These changes will support clients to run more cost efficient fleets in the short term as well as when we all get back to normality.
“In these unprecedented times, it is important that every element of the fleet supply chain comes together and works in everyone’s best interests. And we are encouraged by the many examples of this happening at the moment,” she said.