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OVER the past few years, there have been significant changes to way SMEs acquire and fund their vehicles.

In the leasing sector, increasing BIK tax rates, diesel demonisation, WLTP and economic uncertainty surrounding Brexit have contributed to an 11% drop in business fleet leasing according to recent figures from the SMMT.

Many SMEs are opting to move from traditional company car schemes to allowance-based structures.

To better support SMEs wanting to make the transition from business leasing to personal agreements, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts has conducted some research to identify the key barriers and needs of SMEs in this increasingly complex marketplace.

The results revealed some interesting insights into the changing needs of SMEs and their employees.

Firstly, the findings identified a distinct lack of guidance and information for businesses or employees who want to move away from traditional fleet leasing schemes to allowance-based structures.

To meet this need, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts created a new Business Leasing hub in, specifically designed for SMEs and their employees.

The new hub houses all the information businesses need to make an informed decision about their fleet, from helpful guides on the different types of agreements available and FAQs to the pros and cons of company car vs company car allowance schemes and general eligibility criteria.

Since launching the hub, Nationwide has seen a significant increase in the number of SMEs moving to personal lease agreements.

The research also revealed an increasing interest amongst SMEs and business owners for alternative fuelled vehicles.

Thanks to Government tax incentives, congestion charge exemptions and higher residual values resulting in lower monthly rentals, EV, PHEV and hybrid vehicles are now more attractive than ever before.

This research led to the launch of Nationwide’s new Electric and Hybrid offering.

Working in the similar way as the Business hub, the new Electric and Hybrid page not only gives users the ability to search the latest electric and hybrid lease deals but also links to useful guides on electric and hybrid vehicle running costs, charge point maps and FAQs regarding leasing an electric or hybrid vehicle.

Nationwide plans to further expand on this in 2020 with key partnerships already in place with Scottish Power and Go Ultra Low to help make it even easier for customers to transition to an electric or hybrid vehicle.

Based on BVRLA figures for 2018, the PCH market accounted for 64% of all leasing broker contracts and now represents 57% of the total Parc.

Nationwide Vehicle Contracts arranged 26% of the total volume of these contracts (79% of total sales), empirical proof that customers view us as the “go-to” leasing broker for their needs.

Support for SMEs

Since its inception in 2002, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts has supported almost 28,000 sole traders, partnerships and SMEs with their lease needs.

It works hard to balance volume with a strong service provision, with a specific focus on better supporting businesses and their employees in this increasingly complex marketplace.

In addition to the launch of its Business hub and Electric and Hybrid vehicle offerings, 2019 also saw the expansion of two of its most popular services – Fast Lease and Complete Care – to better support businesses looking to simplify the management of their fleet.

With vehicle downtime remaining a key consideration for many businesses, stock availability continues to be a strong USP for Nationwide Vehicle Contracts, with its Fast Lease service accounting for over 70% of all sales.

Following feedback from SMEs, it expanded the Fast Lease offering to now include vans and pickup trucks.

The new Fast Lease van page allows users to quickly identify vehicles that are in stock and available for delivery within three to four weeks, reducing vehicle downtime and speeding up the ordering and delivery process for both SMEs and private individuals.

Last year also saw the expansion of its Complete Care offering, which combines a range of services including vehicle insurance, maintenance, breakdown cover, accident management and shortfall protection in one package, making fleet management easier than ever before.

A wider range of commercial vehicles including vans and pickup trucks are now available with Complete Care and the offering has been expanded to now include a £500 Fair Wear and Tear Damage Allowance and a free vehicle upgrade in the final six months of the contract if the customer renews into another Complete Care deal.

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