Arval to provide CH for Renault
and Nissan dealers

RCI Financial Services has announced that
fleet management and leasing company Arval has won a tender to
become its outsource partner in the provision of contract hire
services to the Renault and Nissan franchised dealer network. The
partnership came into effect on 1 January 2010, RCI said.

“Arval is providing a dedicated sales and
customer service team to ensure a smooth transition for the Renault
and Nissan dealer network and their customers and will maintain the
high standards of service previously offered by RCI Financial
Services,” the captive added.

CEO of Arval, Jean-Michel Torre
commented: “We are delighted to further strengthen the strategic
partnership that we have with Renault and Nissan in the UK and
across Europe, and we look forward to developing the local fleet
business with the two dealer networks.”

Steve Gowler, managing director of RCI
Financial Services, said: “I am confident that partnership will
improve our competitiveness and broaden the availability of
services for the business-user customer, while maintaining
excellent levels of service to end-users and the Nissan and Renault
dealers, as they grow their market share in the fleet sector.”

HSBC Vehicle Finance fleet
transferred to Lex Autolease

HSBC has announced that it is to wind
down its vehicle finance arm, HSBC Vehicle Finance (HSBCVF),
migrating existing customers over to Lex Autolease, the country’s
largest fleet company.

Lex Autolease had been responsible for
the administration of HSBCVF’s fleet, numbering 40,000 vehicles as
of last year, since 2005. Lex Autolease had handled payment
processing as well as vehicle purchase and disposal, while HSBCVF
retained responsibility for its own sales and marketing.

Cars and light commercial vehicles, the
mainstay of HSBCVF’s business, are not sectors in which HSBC’s
asset finance arm, HSBC Equipment Finance (HSBCEF), is currently
aiming to grow its business. Therefore, while it is possible that
the closure of HSBCVF will send more motor and LCV enquiries
towards HSBCEF's doors, it is far from likely that they
will all be taken on.

HSBC will continue to offer other forms
of finance to fund vehicle acquisitions, the bank said, such as
loans.

Leaseurope asks lessors to
review accounting proposals

Trade association for the European
leasing industry Leaseurope has called on its members to review the
IASB’s latest lease accounting plans, as they could “lead to a
drastic change in existing lease accounting requirements,”
Leaseurope said.

“[There] is growing concern with the
direction the proposals for lessor accounting are taking,”
Leaseurope added.

Marc Venus, chairman of Leaseurope’s
accounting committee said: “[If] the lessor accounting proposals
have the effect of limiting the availability of leasing as
Leaseurope expects they may, smaller firms in particular could have
a much harder time financing their investments. These are firms
with limited sources of external funding to begin with and, without
the benefit of the collateral that leasing naturally incorporates,
their borrowing may become more costly and difficult to
obtain.”

Hertz to take on
EVs

Rental company Hertz and manufacturer
Nissan have signed a memorandum of understanding that will see
Hertz taking on the OEM’s LEAF electric car in the US and Europe by
early 2011.

“The partnership with Nissan seals
Hertz’s commitment to green-car rentals and firmly demonstrates our
mission to advancing zero-emission mobility on a global scale,”
said Mark P Frissora, chairman and CEO of Hertz.

Telematics leasing on the
rise

The leasing of telematics equipment is on
the rise – with news that Ford is about to offer packages in the UK
on its Transit Connect vans.

The fleet tracking system, called Crew
Chief, can be rolled up into a lease package or acquired directly
from its manufacturer, Microlise.

Crew Chief, which was launched in the US
in 2008, is due to enter the German market this year or in early
2011, and “could arrive on UK shores soon after”, a Ford
spokesperson said.

Developed for Ford by Microlise, Crew
Chief collects and transmits a range of data, including vehicle
location, fuel consumption, engine running hours, diagnostic fault
codes and excess idling. Fleet managers can access the data, which
is held on Microlise's servers, via the internet.

Corporate manslaughter fines
‘could bankrupt firms’

The new sentencing rules for charges of
corporate manslaughter “could bankrupt firms” which are convicted
of the offence, law firm Shoosmiths has warned.

The Sentencing Advisory Panel has ruled
that minimum fines for health and safety breaches causing death
will seldom fall below £100,000, will more likely be around the
£500,000 mark, and could reach millions in some cases. The
convicted company will also have to take out ads in newspapers
telling of its prosecution.

The issue of corporate manslaughter is
one of concern to companies whose employees drive on business, as
the majority of workplace deaths happen on the roads.

Scrappage deadline
extended

The scrappage scheme’s deadline has been
extended to the end of March, the Department for Business,
Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced – but no more funds have been
made available by the government.

BIS made the decision to extend the
scheme from its original end of February deadline after talking to
manufacturers and dealers, who said they needed more time to
prepare for the scheme’s end.

The department said that 330,722 vehicles
have been ordered through the scheme between its introduction in
April 2009 and 24 January this year.

According to BIS, manufacturers will be
allocated “order quotas” to help the scheme come to an “orderly”
end.

Business secretary Lord Mandelson said:
“Against the background of the economic downturn the scrappage
scheme has proved a great success, driving UK car sales, protecting
jobs and supporting the supply chain for car manufacture at a time
when this sector needed it most.

“If you’re considering buying a new car,
you should place your order as soon as possible to avoid
disappointment because the budget is strictly limited.”

Survey: Most drivers to use
savings to pay for new car

Drivers plan to spend less on cars in
2010, but the number planning to fund car purchases using their
savings has dropped, a report by AA Financial Services has
found.

Its latest Car Purchase Index (CPI) found
that 41 percent of respondents said they would use savings to fund
a car purchase, down from 49 percent last year.

There was also a drop in the number of
people planning to take out a loan, at 16 percent, compared with 20
percent a year ago.

Some of the slack has been taken up by
cash: The proportion of respondents planning to use cash to buy a
car doubled, from 7 percent a year ago, to 14 percent.

“This suggests that many people are able
to use funds such as redundancy payments or pension lump sums to
help them buy a new car,” said Mark Huggins, director of AA
Financial Services.

The survey found buyers wanted to spend
less, and said: “Although the most popular price-band in the CPI is
still £5,000-£10,000, with 32 percent saying they will spend this
much, this is a fall of 3 percent compared to last year. More
people are planning to spend under £5,000 (23 percent compared with
19 percent last year).”

Axa develops new end of lease
insurance products

A new end of lease insurance product has
been developed by Axa Assistance, in collaboration with Complectus,
a claims management solutions business. The range of products,
called Lease Guard, will cover the risk of recharges for
refurbishment costs.

Leasing companies that have an end of
term obligation to return vehicles in a certain condition will be
covered for damages such as scuffs, chips and small dents.

Axa Assistance UK managing director Peter
Powell said: “The policy is an effective way of smoothing out the
end of lease return process, by removing the inevitable conflict
over recharging for the refurbishment work required to meet the
return standard.”