BVRLA Chief writes for the FN50 and looks ahead to 2020

BVRLA Chief Executive Gerry Keaney writes for the FN50 magazine

BVRLA membership has continued to grow throughout 2019 with the total number of organisations in the BVRLA family breaching the one thousand threshold for the first time in the association’s fifty-two-year history.

Any reductions as a result of consolidation in the market from mergers and acquisitions have been offset by growth across all core business areas including vehicle rental, leasing and those who supply to, or have an interest in the industry. The association’s new Fleet Operator membership category also welcomed its first members this year, consolidating the association’s position as the independent voice of the fleet sector.

The BVRLA member fleet size breached a milestone this year with members now collectively responsible for over 5 million vehicles on UK roads. Add to this the fact that BVRLA members buy almost half of all new vehicles sold in the UK each year and purchase 83% of all UK-manufactured vehicles sold to a domestic market, the influence of BVRLA members is stronger than ever.

Policymakers and parliamentarians from across all parties are increasingly acknowledging the important role that BVRLA members play in delivering the UK’s zero-emission ambitions.

Support came in unprecedented levels at the annual Parliamentary Reception, where around 50 MPs pledged their support for our policy asks. With BVRLA members already responsible for around 35% of the UK’s plug-in electric vehicles, we made clear that this figure could be far greater with the right incentives and support for fleets.

As well as driving the road to zero, BVRLA members are also at the vanguard of the future mobility revolution. Members’ businesses are continuing to shift away from being a vehicle rental or leasing provider and are seeing themselves more as a ‘mobility solutions’ provider, encouraging individuals and businesses to think differently about using alternative cleaner transport solutions.

The ABC of change in 2020

There are three core drivers of change that will continue to have a significant impact upon the fleet sector in the year ahead:

Air quality – The need to improve air quality will remain at the top of the agenda for government and local authorities and we will continue to see more towns and cities deploying innovative solutions to tackle air pollution. Flexible pay-as-you-go mobility solutions will become more commonplace, facilitated by new technologies that give people the ability to access real-time data to help locate what they want, when they want and where they want it.

From finding an EV charge point, to using a car club, we will see the wonders of technology combining with social conscience and industry ingenuity to deliver a more sustainable transport ecosystem. 2020 will be the year of the APP when it comes to driving transport behaviour change and progressing the future of mobility.     

Regulatory restrictions around air quality will continue to provide an opportunity for BVRLA members to market their sustainability credentials to individuals and businesses looking for cleaner transport solutions.

Brexit – The ‘B-word’ will continue to be a hot topic for the fleet industry as we transition to a new trade environment in the course of the next year.

Although government has ramped up its advice to businesses to help prepare for a no-deal Brexit, we still face huge uncertainties. We will continue to work on moving sands throughout 2020, responding to challenges and opportunities as they emerge.

Tariffs and restrictions around employing EU staff remain a concern for members, as with almost every UK organisation, but our industry faces a myriad of other regulatory issues and concerns relating to Brexit, particularly around the supply of vehicles.

We hope that the supply issues that we are currently experiencing, particularly in electric vehicles, does not get exasperated in 2020, especially in the event of a no-deal.

Type-approval, emissions standards, data protection and driving overseas are amongst the many other areas impacted by Brexit.

Changing business models – The fleet sector has always been responsive to change and customer-focussed. This combination of being motivated to meet customer needs and being nimble enough to react to technological and environmental change is driving BVRLA members to explore new business models. We are continuing to see a shift towards providing a broader range of integrated mobility services rather than delivering just one rental, leasing or fleet management product. Our members are being relied upon to provide informed advice as well as providing a product or mobility solution.   

The BVRLA will continue to support members through what could possibly become an A-to-Z of change during 2020. By being a louder voice of influence in the corridors of power, the BVRLA and its members remain committed to delivering sustainable future mobility solutions, driving industry growth and promoting the reputation of the industry.