When making decisions about your company fleet, you really have to have your eyes glued to the road. The task of keeping the company on track – and its drivers safe and comfortable – can be fraught enough at the best of times. But the challenge only becomes harder when attempting to navigate volatile fuel prices and shifting sustainability targets on ever-shrinking budgets. This last point is particularly pertinent: the fleet is often the second-largest cost a company faces after salaries.
For all of these reasons, any company looking to succeed as a fleet supplier has to be every bit as versatile themselves. You need the range, the corporate support network and a proper understanding of the market if you’re really going to respond to these varied demands.
AHEAD OF THE PACK
Nissan is the perfect example of a company making incisive manoeuvres in fleet. The company registered 63,358 passenger cars to fleet customers in 2014 – an increase of 13.6% on 2013. And that trend is set to continue in 2015, with the new systems and people it has put in place to support further growth.
Nissan already has a 300-strong corporate demo fleet, and teams of experienced managers specialising in corporate sales, contract hire and leasing, fleet electric vehicles and light commercial vehicles. From October, it will add a Mid-Sized Fleet Team, built to meet the specific needs of those fleet customers. This is all backed by the company’s Business Support Network, designed to advise on procurement, funding and logistics, both face-to-face and through the newly launched Nissan fleet website and its Live Chat facility. The Network has 54 centres across the UK.
Nissan is no stranger to the UK market. The company began building cars in Sunderland in 1986, and has invested £3.6bn into the facility since. Now it rolls out more than half a million vehicles every year. More than a third of all British-built cars in the UK are Nissans.
But it’s not just production: Nissan Design Europe is based in the heart of London, and ensures that the Nissans operated by fleets have been designed with the needs of British drivers in mind. And Nissan Technical Centre Europe in Cranfield is the centre of excellence for engineering and development on its European models.
Nissan has one of the widest and most diverse ranges in the marketplace and is likely to meet any fleet need. Take the crossover, a vehicle that combines the practicality of the SUV with the strengths of a passenger car. The company has launched the Qashqai, a fleet favourite that won What Car?’s award for best small SUV in 2014 and 2015 and regularly features in the list of top 10 selling cars in the UK.
Then there’s the sleek X-Trail seven-seater, the pioneering e-NV200 electric van, and the LEAF electric hatchback. This range allows the fleet manager to tackle the pressing issues of better fuel performance and meeting sustainability objectives – while allowing its people to get on with their jobs.
Nissan is the UK’s leading manufacturer of 100% electric vehicles, with the range including cars, light vans and people carriers, and it is constantly developing new technologies to make drivers safer and driving more efficient.
LOW-COST, HIGH-TECH PULSAR
As of 2014, this fleet has a new addition: the Pulsar, voted best family car under £16k by What Car? this year. The hatchback goes upnagainst the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra in the compact car segment, the largest in the UK fleet market, and serves to strengthen Nissan’s already impressive showroom line-up.
The Pulsar has a number of eye-catching USPs. First up, it’s roomy, with plenty of boot space and class-leading rear leg room (a simple thing like fitting five adults in a car without banging knees is a boon for any business). It also boasts low operating costs, low fuel consumption (up to 78.5 mpg) and low emissions, with CO2 from 94g/km. So not only does the company spend less on fuel, but it can meet sustainability targets too.
Then there are the safety features: six airbags; Nissan Safety Shield Technologies, which add Blind Spot and Lane Departure Warnings; Around View Monitor to aid parking; as well as Forward Emergency Braking. These help protect employees, and reduce repair costs: if you have fewer bumps and scrapes, it’s as beneficial to the balance sheet as it is the paint job. The Pulsar boasts high-quality features as standard, including a 5.8-inch touch screen, DAB and smartphone integration.
Fleet managers know the value of getting a lot for their money; any driver will tell you how important it is to be comfortable on the road. As for how to meet these needs as a fleet provider, Nissan is showing the way.