Brendan MalkinThe big story right now in UK motor finance is not energy
consumption, or the environment, or fraud, or even the fact there
seems to be more large fleet deals around than there are negative
stories about Toyota (more on which later). Rather, it is
Volkswagen Financial Services (UK) Ltd (VWFS).

At least, that seems to be the
case. VWFS’ bullish managing director, Graham Wheeler, revealed
toMotor Finance that in March his company signed a record
£273m of new business.

VWFS is definitely now up
there with the big boys. Its fleet and retail portfolio is
comprised of a whopping 300,000 finance contracts – which puts it
on a par with Lex Autolease in terms of scale, even if it is a very
different type of business – and which sets it apart from the likes
of LeasePlan UK Ltd. Furthermore, its units represent an impressive
one-fifth of all cars and vans financed by UK captives in the
wheeled asset sector.

Wheeler in part attributes his
business’ recent upturn to its close alliance with dealerships.
Some 90%, says Wheeler, of VWFS’ March business was introduced
through franchised and independent dealers, and he now wants this
to grow even more.

Given the relatively low
penetration of VWFS in the UK compared to its home market of
Germany, this seems readily achievable.

Signing large fleet deals also
helps in the battle for volume, and VWFS appears to be winning on
this front, too. In the not too distant future it plans to
announce, via these pages, a deal that will impress not just
Motor Finance readers, but also those in the wider
business community.

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But there appears to be plenty
of business to go round, at least on the fleet front. A fair
proportion of this is good quality, large-scale transactions, as a
quick glance at our deals section on page 11 will reveal.

Hats off, in particular, to
Ignition Credit, a motor lessor which is also making its mark in
asset finance, and which last month not only won a major deal with
the Formula Renault UK Championship, but also announced plans to
expand its south west England presence with the launch of a new
business in Devon.

It is, however, far from being
alone in trying to break into new territories, as is made clear in
our lead article on pages 3 and 4, on companies looking for growth
in the Scottish and Irish markets.

A final note on Toyota. It
faces having to pay a $16.4m (£10.7m) imposed by US regulators for
delays in notifying them about the flaws in its accelerator

Meanwhile, as Motor
was going to press, Reuters reported that US
law firm Hagens Berman, as part of its role as interim lead
co-counsel for the unintended acceleration litigation, had launched
an investigation into Toyota Financial Services “for its leasing

Proof, indeed, that the
regulators are never far from lessors’ doorsteps.

Boxing gloves


Brendan Malkin