A weekly round-up of European and UK fleet stories including Mercedes-Benz fleet ambition, new head of Nordics at Fleet Logistics, reaction to UK government EV investment and growth at Hitachi Capital fleet provision.

MBFS aims to take German success abroad

Mercedes-Benz Financial Services (MBFS) plans to grow its fleet leasing business across Europe and beyond after a successful 2012 for its fleet management business, particularly in its German domestic market.

MBFS, part of parent group Daimler’s Financial Services division, reported new business volume of €9.1bn in 2012, up just 1% on 2011. However, the firm said it exceeded its goal of 17% return-on-equity for the year and grew its managed fleet 6% year-on-year in 2012 to exceed 280,000 vehicles.

The company said the increase takes Daimler’s market share in Germany to a record high and added more than half of all new Daimler vehicles registered in Germany is now leased or financed by MBFS.

Franz Reiner, chief executive of MBFS, said: "So far, we have focused heavily with Daimler Fleet Management on the German market. We will now start to conquer international customers in Europe and farther abroad."

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Dennis Jensen appointed Fleet Logistics’ head of Nordics

European fleet management company Fleet Logistics has appointed Dennis Jensen as country head for the Nordics.

Jensen will be based at the company’s Nordics head office in Malmo, Sweden, as well as working out of the Finland office in Helsinki, and will report to Stuart Donnelly, chief regional officer for the UK and the Nordics.

Prior to joining Fleet Logistics, Jensen spent 17 years at Leaseplan Denmark, most recently as commercial director.

Donnelly said: "We are delighted to appoint someone with Dennis’ vast experience of the European fleet and leasing market and look forward capitalising on that experience as we seek to continue to expand our Nordics business."

UK government to fund plug-in points

The UK Government is to supply a £37m (€43m) funding package, providing 75% of installation costs for private and public charge points for plug-in cars.

The majority of the money, part of the administration’s £400m budget to promote ultra low emission vehicles until April 2005, will be divided between individuals installing charge points at home, with £13.5m allocated for this purpose, while £11m will be available to local authorities installing them on streets, and £9m to train operators installing them at railway stations.

£280,000 will also be made available to the Energy Saving Trust’s Plugged-in Fleets initiative in England to help 100 public and private sector fleets identify where ultra low emission vehicles could work for them. The Government will also aim to reduce the average CO2/km emissions of its own fleet.

Nissan, manufacturer of the Leaf electric car, has publicly welcomed the package, as has the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Andreas Atkins, head of Electric Vehicle Services at British Gas, explained the benefits available to the business car sector:

"Fleet managers are already realising that low-cost, low-carbon electric vehicles are a great alternative to petrol cars, and continued investment in the public charging network is vital to maintaining that momentum.

"We expect local authorities and business to play an increasingly important part in further developing charging infrastructure across the country and it’s great to see the government taking the lead with more UK-wide funding"

Hitachi Capital UK salary sacrifice fleet reaches 6,200

Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions (HCVS) has reported its salary sacrifice fleet has grown to 6,200 vehicles in 18 months.

The company attributes such growth, achieved through six clients, to cooperation between clients’ fleet, HR and finance departments.

Mike Belcher, head of sales at HCVS, said: "We know from experience that the fleet department will want to treat the scheme as an extension to their fleet responsibilities, HR will want to treat salary sacrifice as a benefit scheme, while finance will be risk averse and want to reduce costs.

"Our role is to identify companies where we are confident all three can work together to deliver a salary sacrifice scheme that benefits both employer and employee".

By Steffen Müller, Peter Johnstone and Richard Irvine-Brown