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FROM COVID-19 and semi-conductor shortages impacting on vehicle supply to rising inflation and uncertain trading conditions, the past 12 months have not been easy for any business.

But they have been especially challenging for SMEs where there is often little flexibility to adjust their business model as circumstances change. Having a flexible rental partner is therefore crucial.

Europcar, winner of this year’s Business Motoring Long-Term Rental Award, has stayed focused on delivering a flexible and cost effective long-term rental solution – from one month to three years – that means businesses can meet their customers’ needs without the burden of additional capital expenditure.

The new vehicle supply delays, combined with rising prices for new and used vehicles, are another challenge Europcar is helping SMEs tackle. Rental is filling the gap, not just in terms of supply, but delivering a cost-effective alternative to outright ownership or lease too.

Multi-modal mobility

The EuropcarOne mobility platform provides seamless access to a range of multi-modal solutions, from daily rental to pool car fleets and long-term rental. It also uses technology to make the life of the small business owner easier, as well as help them keep control on costs.

Transparency over how additional charges are calculated is essential because the business owner is one step removed from the rental itself. Europcar’s Delivery and Collection App – a handheld technology for time, date and location stamped, digital image capture – provides genuine transparency of the vehicle condition.

Customers also get a text refuel reminder to drivers at the end of the rental to avoid this being an additional cost for the customer. Plus, fleet and corporate customers have the ability to accurately forecast costs with the company’s Limited Damage Option (LDO) and Limited Fuel Option (LFO) services, giving an agreed tolerance to cover any charge in these areas, including admin fees. These services also reduce the administrative burden of managing the high volume of low value claims.

Adapting for a hybrid working world

Another important enhancement – and very much in tune with the changed environment – has been the adoption of car share technology for pool car management.

A small company may have invested in one or two company cars, but the new hybrid working model probably means those vehicles are sitting outside the office or in a car park; yet other employees still need to get from A to B.

In response Europcar has helped companies change the way company and pool cars can be accessed and used. While traditional vehicle rental may be widely used by some businesses with larger fleets, corporate car sharing from the office car park may be a less familiar option. Yet, it is becoming a great choice for companies who need vehicles for a variety of employees for short periods of time.

Innovative new technology such as  ‘Tap and go’ system can be installed into pool cars with the option to either just install the technology and booking platform or to access vehicles too. Using an all-devices app, drivers can book their own rental, while allowing business owners, fleet and travel managers to oversee and monitor the use of their business fleet efficiently.

Monitoring and reporting, via the platform provides real-time updates on bookings, vehicle utilisation and even CO2 consumption.  Corporate car sharing is not only an effective method of ensuring optimum use of vehicle resources but also means that companies no longer need to rely on ‘grey fleet’ cars, which tend to be older, less reliable, more polluting and are not usually fitted with the latest safety features.

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