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Lockdown creating ‘two-speed fleet economy’ for medium-term rental, says Meridian

The coronavirus situation has created a “two-speed fleet economy” for the medium-term rental sector, with considerably increased demand in some sectors while others have effectively closed.

Phil Jerome, managing director at Meridian Vehicle Solutions

Phil Jerome, managing director at Meridian Vehicle Solutions, explained: “The parts of the economy that are staying open are very busy, whether that be food retailers or workers directly involved in the fight against coronavirus. There is a need for immediate transport for some people and we are helping to satisfy that.

“On the other hand, there are many parts of industry that have effectively closed for business, and new orders have fallen to almost zero in those sectors.”

Jerome added that because car rental was classified as an exempt business, it remained effectively the only form of vehicle provision available to many private and public organisations while car dealerships remained closed.

“There are reports that daily rental levels have increased for some suppliers in recent weeks. While that is a different market to ours, what we can say is that we are seeing consistent demand and are still taking orders.

“Certainly, while we wouldn’t have wished to find ourselves in this situation, for anyone who needs a car for work or other purposes for a few months and either can’t order a new vehicle because of restrictions or doesn’t want to make a commitment, our product appears to be the best-placed option. This applies especially to those who want to maximise social distancing by having their own enclosed space in which to travel.”

The BVRLA has also pointed out that rental is playing a critical role during the outbreak, with tens of thousands of cars, vans, minibuses and trucks being provided to ensure that key workers are mobile and essential services are maintained.

Meridian’s Phil Jerome added that there are already signs that future bookings will continue to be made during the crisis.

“The fact that we remain relatively optimistic means that, even in the last few days, we have ordered almost 100 additional cars for our fleet. We’re expecting ongoing demand.

“The main issue that we face is that, because the majority of our cars are delivered new from dealers, whether we can get them all safely processed and sent out but we are dealing with this on a case-by-case basis,” he added.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006.