Fleet operators hiring vans from the UK’s largest van rental supplier can elect to have a speed limit set on their short-term vehicle to fit in with existing health and safety or environmental policies.
Northgate managing director Bob Contreras told Fleet News that more efficient rental vans were usually not specifically sought by customers, although setting a speed limit has become increasingly requested.
He said: “For most customers, the biggest cost after rental is fuel, so we are also able to set a speed limit on our rental vehicles which will help reduce fuel costs.”
Calculations suggest a speed limiter set at 69mph could save up to 5% of fuel compared with no speed limit, while one set at 62mph has potential for savings of up to 7%.
Research also suggests that a motorway speed limit of 62mph could reduce road deaths by 46%. A number of commercial vehicle fleets have speed limiters fitted at lower than 60mph, and vans from Northgate could be tailored to ensure any rental vehicles would fit in with existing policies.
Contreras added: “At 52mph the fuel savings are significant. It puts us in a strong position to offer this service if customers request it.
“It helps customers in two ways: by improving safety and reducing fuel use. We have a responsibility to develop new products and services that will lead the rest of the industry.”
Contreras said that as the economy makes a slow recovery there is still a great deal of uncertainty for businesses.
This presents an opportunity for rental firms to provide a proportion of vans on fleets without the risks associated with long-term contract hire agreements or outright purchase.
“Many organisations rent LCVs as their business needs change and it allows them to increase the size of their fleet without risk and downsize afterwards as the contract comes to an end without financial penalty,” said Contreras.
“We want to grow the existing rental market by looking at those who traditionally purchase their vans. What businesses fail to see is the cost of vans being stood doing nothing is not sustainable.”
The company, which has a fleet of around 50,000 vehicles in the UK, has grown in the past 30 years through establishing a network of sites and acquisition of local companies, and also includes sales of ex-rental vehicles through Van Monster as well as a fleet management product. Northgate now has 62 sites in the UK, including 56 workshops.
Contreras added: “Our aim is to be the first choice for LCV rental in the UK. Nobody has the fleet size we have, and although car rental companies have a large network, they have a fraction of what we have on our fleet.”
Northgate plans to grow its own network by 20 sites over the next four years, with particular focus on London.
Depite total revenues for the company, which also operates in Spain and Ireland, falling in its latest annual report – from £706m to £609m, with profits down from £105.2, to £86.4m – it has been galvanised by a four-year refinancing programme which helped to cut debt from £886m to £363m.
Northgate also noted a rise in rental pricing of 2% in the UK.