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Interview: Athlon UK MD Patricia Wolfe talks business mobility plans

Athlon UK managing director Patricia Wolfe talks to Martyn Collins about the firm’s major rebrand and its ambitious plans for business mobility solutions.

Patricia Wolfe, managing director Athlon UK

On 12 October 2020, Daimler Fleet Management (DFM) UK Ltd rebranded as Athlon UK – some four years after Daimler Financial Services acquired Athlon Car Lease International for €1.1bn (£1bn) in Europe. It means Athlon is now the fleet and mobility management expert in the Daimler group, operated by Daimler Mobility AG.

The acquisition was made to strengthen Daimler’s competitive position in business mobility and integrate its ‘Daimler Fleet Management’ division under one brand.

And it’s a brand that’s well known. Famed for its innovative, sustainable and cost-efficient business mobility solutions for more than 100 years, Athlon is now one of the leading providers of vehicle leasing and fleet management in Europe – managing over 400,000 vehicles. The company enables people to move hassle-free through integrated and sustainable fleet and mobility solutions.

It was heralded as a fleet deal that would reshape the European lease industry – and while it’s taken four years for the UK arm to rebrand, Patricia Wolfe, managing director, Athlon UK, says the timing makes perfect sense.

“Taking everything into consideration, we decided early on to continue under the Daimler Fleet Management name with the planned rebrand to Athlon scheduled for 2020,” she sets out.

“We are very proud that even in times of the Covid crisis, which has had an impact on everything, we succeeded in staying on plan for this year. It is the right timing for us, and we did not only rename our organisation, we also moved to new premises recently and we were able to incorporate the new brand and branding there right away.”

And asked on the benefits of rebranding to Athlon in the UK now, she stresses: “With the name change now, we are clearly positioning ourselves as a multi-marque fleet and mobility provider.”

The name may finally have changed in the UK, but as Athlon, the division will continue to strive for the most sustainable and tailor-made mobility solutions for its customers.

Athlon also claims its multi-marque fleet provision delivers unrivalled vehicle access and a wide range of funding options, ranging from short-term rental through to full contract hire with repair and maintenance packages to suit all needs, making it the perfect fit for any fleet set-up or budget.

With a fleet of more than 14,000 units in the UK, the company believes it has the expertise to support businesses to navigate through changing regulations, for example by introducing electric vehicles into fleets.

But it’s also been able to help fleets navigate the pandemic, supported by its focus on integrated fleet and mobility solutions.

Wolfe explains: “We were able to be a partner to our customers in managing this crisis from its beginning. We took a proactive approach early on to extend and restructure contracts, offer payment holidays and work with our customers to maximise the utilisation of their fleet.

“Throughout the lockdown we also actively supported our many public sector clients, specifically enabling their drive towards electrification and reducing their fleet emissions.

“And I am very proud of the whole team for achieving that while also preparing the organisation to operate under the Athlon name.”

Athlon is also looking to take a pioneering role when it comes to mobility.

When asked about the latest solutions that Athlon will be introducing, Wolfe explains: “Athlon recognises that new mobility solutions must deliver more flexibility to the customer. For example, using rental and subscription models that allow customers to better make decisions in what are still uncertain and changing times. Our ambition is to offer our customers exactly the flexibility they need: Mobility from Years to Minutes. Furthermore, we do focus on sustainability and support our customers by bringing electric vehicles into their fleets.”

Wolfe also thinks the idea of sustainable leasing contracts could prove revolutionary for fleets.

“The concept is a really interesting one, especially since sustainability is more important than ever. Time will show if sustainable leasing contracts are creating a big demand, when they are available in the UK,” she says.

It is still too early to work out what a ‘new normal’ for fleet will be, but Athlon and Wolfe certainly seem well placed to deal with future challenges.

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Martyn Collins

Martyn has 18 years experience as a motoring journalist, working across a wide selection of B2B and consumer titles. A car enthusiast since his early years, Martyn has a particular interest in the latest models and technology and in his spare time enjoys driving his own Minis.