Nissan’s new man in fleet

Relatively recently installed as fleet director at Nissan, Csaba Vincze talks to John Challen about his plans for the brand and what he is doing to help drivers into EVs

What have you learned from your time at Nissan to help the fleet sector?

I was working on strategy before my current job, but have also been in operational roles, so there is a lot I can bring in terms of how to create tailor-made strategies to our product launches. What's important is to make sure we market them in the best possible way, focusing on our customers and showing our capabilities as a brand.

Ariya is a flagship for us and shows what Nissan can do today – it’s the best vehicle we’ve built. From a fleet perspective, because it is 100% EV, there are big BiK benefits and will be of interest to those looking at salary sacrifice schemes.

How can you best help fleets in the short-term?

The main element for us is to make sure that our corporate customers are shifting to an EV fleet. I would like us to be seen mainly as the partner in this process. I talked to some customers who have a 100% EV fleet and, for them, the car is only one of the decisions. There is obviously the infrastructure – what they need to set one up, but also how it will work for the drivers – and there is also how they manage the fleet mix overall.

Then there are simple things such as reimbursement of the charging. I listen to people from companies with electric van fleets and they have problems with charging at night because the drivers don't have a driveway. I would like to be part of the discussion, because we have experiences and the knowhow – I think we can be a very credible partner in this process, based on our experiences.

How, specifically, can Nissan help EV drivers in that scenario?

One focus will be on the infrastructure and how it will develop. Being part of this discussion is important – it will probably not impact our fleet sales next month, but mid-term it might do and we are probably among a very small number of OEMs who participate in these discussions. Our experience will be important, so this fluid information sharing is vital for the decision-makers within fleets.

Our big corporate customers, such as Tesco, Scottish Power and Royal Mail, have already committed to shift to 100% to fleet by 2030 – we’re talking about 70,000 units. We can give a lot based on our experience and we are credible to them, because they already use Nissans in their fleet.

“Ariya is a flagship for us and shows what Nissan can do today – it’s the best vehicle we’ve built”

Csaba Vincze, fleet director, Nissan

Why should people choose Nissan EVs?

We have a lot of experience with electric cars – LEAF has been on the market for 11 years in different versions and battery sizes, for example. I think the reliability of the technology is key and that's what makes us a very credible choice. We have sold more than half a million units worldwide and the key point in these electric technologies is the energy in to the battery and out. So we will be judged on how smart, safe and reliable that energy is.

Coming back to Ariya, what's the split likely to be between retail and fleet?

We have our expectations, but there is no big pressure on the volume. We had an initial expectation of a 50:50 mix between retail and fleet – at the beginning is going to be less fleet and more retail. But Ariya fits very well in all the sub-segments within fleet.

One of the leasing companies was so positive and enthusiastic about the car. It is so convincing as a proposition for fleets and fits perfectly within the salary sacrifice scheme. Based on the feedback from other leasing companies – and some of the corporates – it is spot-on in terms of the model and what it provides, but also positioning-wise. It's a new territory for us, but I’m convinced that this will work very well. And for us is going to be important to fleets.

How can you help fleets transition to EVs?

What I recognise is that some corporate customers bought a few units for the experience and then, based on that experience, they expand and work out a schedule for that expansion.

We can give added value by being upfront with them and anticipating how those experiences will work. We won’t necessarily go out and provide them with chargers, but we have the experience, contacts and even contracts – in some cases – that can help them.

Depending on what they need, we can answer their questions and tell them firstly what they need to consider and then offer potential solutions. So, we can suggest that they get in touch with this company or that company – or they are free to choose someone else.

We can come up with tailor-made solutions and make the process a little bit smoother. And we will tell them that they will need to consider lots of questions – and that approach, from what I’ve seen from fleet managers, is super important. It's not that we want to sell only our products, it’s that we want to work with them to have this expansion. We don’t want to force them to go through the experience on their own, because the information that needs to be collected is so important. Fortunately, we have some case studies that we’ve sent out and also webinars that explain things in more detail.

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