Helen Lees, the head of Free2Move Mobility & Connected Services, explains what the changes mean – and what leasing brokers can expect in the future.
Most leasing brokers will have come across Free2Move Lease as the B2B funder behind Citroen and Peugeot dealer contract hire. Although, rather like BMW-owned Alphabet and Toyota owned Kinto (formerly Inchcape Fleet Solutions), the brand also offers multimarque leasing.
Now we will start to see different mobility offerings launched under the same Free2Move brand. So what can we expect from it in the UK?
Helen Lees, the head of the Free2Move Mobility & Connected Services division, says:
We have basically operated in the past with one division offering telematics and fleet car sharing, and another division offering B2B fleet funding services. From now on we operate as one division, simply branded Free2Move with Mark Pickles as managing director.
The pivot to retail offerings
While Free2Move Lease has been associated with the B2B market in the UK, Helen says we should expect to see more retail offerings in the future.
These will be available through the Groupe PSA’s dealerships and will be branded Free2Move rather than Vauxhall Contract Hire and so on.
The first such retail offering will be a car rental operation.
“We will be offering a Free2Move car rental service via dealerships, which can work independently across all Groupe PSA’s brands and is underpinned with a strong digital platform and app,” explains Helen.
“Certainly one of the easier ways to explain Free2Move is to think of it as offering customers a car when they need it for any length of time that they require.
“This may be from just a few minutes to a full day with a car sharing service, or from several days to a month with a short term rental offer, or perhaps from one month to several years thanks to a no commitment monthly subscription or then with longer term lease rentals. We see it very much as a case of how finance can blend with mobility to offer different solutions to customers.”
The new Free2Move Rent is a 100% digital short-term rental service offering cars from Peugeot, Citroen, DS and Vauxhall brands on a single platform. Already available in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and Luxembourg, Free2Move Rent has more than 300,000 customers, which will expand further as it rolls out the service to other countries in 2020, including the UK.
Free2Move looks to expand in the business market, explains Mark Pickles
Free2Move will continue with its current B2B funding solutions, but will look to integrate some of the brands other products, such as Free2Move Connect Fleet telematics, as part of a consolidated package, explains managing director Mark Pickles (pictured right).
“Free2Move Lease, the Business Contract Hire provider specialising in the funding of PSA vehicles continues to grow. In the past 12 months we have seen significant growth, principally through the launch of a BCH product for Vauxhall through the existing Vauxhall Retailer network.
“So, although the BCH market has been in decline as the personal lease market increases, we are on track to grow business volumes by more than 50% this year, even though COVID-19 has brought obvious disruptions.”
Mark says that plans to grow its broker activities beyond a small number of relationships has been put back. This is partly due to the strong growth in retailer volumes, but also its new focus on launching rental and mobility services as the part of the new Free2Move offering.
“With the integration of all of the Free2Move activities into a single business unit in the UK, we have a real opportunity to extend our footprint, launch innovative new services, provide new revenue sources to existing partners, and then to grow with new partners where specific opportunities present themselves,” added Mark.
More to come from Free2Move as a standalone brand
Helen continues that there is more to come from Free2Move.
“Prior to Free2Move I was in electrification and there are a lot of similarities with Free2Move because I think it’s very clear that both mobility and electrification are a key part of the PSA strategy.
“It’s an exciting place to work and feels more like an agile start-up in its operational manner. The new products coming out of Free2Move will be reflective of this mindset as we bring together new mobility services – such as short, medium and long-term rental, parking and connected fleet management – to meet the travel needs of both individuals and business customers.”
Free2Move, which was originally created in September 2016, will have a head office located in Paris and a team of 150 people worldwide with its own dedicated website and becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Groupe PSA.
And expect to see a lot more of the Free2Move brand in the future – and hopefully increased activity in the broker channel beyond the PSA Groupe brands.
Ralph Morton is the leading journalist in the leasing broker sector and editor of Broker News, the website which provides information and news for BVRLA-registered leasing brokers. He also writes extensively on the fleet and leasing market in both the UK and Europe.