Advertisement Feature

Electric and automated vehicles: how Europcar is embracing change

Lombard’s flexible financing supports a global leader in car and van hire


More than 120 years after electric taxis were first introduced in London - unsuccessfully, as it turned out: they failed to compete with the horse-drawn cab - it seems battery-powered vehicles are finally poised to become the norm.

Their increasing popularity will shake up vehicle industries and services, as will self-driving cars, which may shape society as profoundly as the internal combustion engines that eventually replaced horses. If vehicles become fully autonomous, will owning them still seem worthwhile, or will we instead hail cars, Uber-style, as and when we need them?

After 60 years in car and van hire, Europcar is in no doubt that this is the way things are going. “We believe that there will be a sizeable shift away from vehicle ownership, and businesses and individuals will seek to have access to vehicle assets rather than owning them,” says Gary Smith, the managing director of Europcar Mobility Group UK.

Looking ahead, we might pay a monthly subscription to belong to a robot-driven taxi network, much as we currently do for our mobile phone provision. Europcar Mobility Group does not believe this will happen in the immediate future, although it expects the shift to electric power to hasten the rise of autonomous vehicles.

“As electric vehicles start to take hold, the next step towards autonomous vehicles will become more achievable,” Smith predicts. “However, this does seem to be some distance away at the moment.”

An uncertain future

For Europcar Mobility Group, flexibility is key. Technological change may be accelerating, but it is also erratic and hard to predict. Some pundits believe self-driving cars are just around the corner - though perhaps not quite yet literally - but others are less convinced.

As well as technical challenges - in some tests cars have performed emergency stops for something as small as a crisp packet on the road in front of them - there are legal, financial and ethical problems.

New regulation will certainly be required to ensure safety standards in self-driving cars, and attributing fault after an accident could be problematic. The insurance industry will have to adapt too.

One ethical challenge includes when to slam on the brakes. We would want a car to perform that dangerous manoeuvre, which may put other road users at risk, to avoid hitting a human being. In most countries we might do the same thing for a dog, depending on the circumstances. But what about a rabbit, or rat?

Europcar Mobility Group says it is not trying to second-guess the future, or the way in which technology and the law may develop. “The most important thing we can do at the moment is to be prepared for the changing needs of our customers,” says Smith.

Flexible financing

An agile approach requires agile financing, and Smith says this is exactly the strength of the firm’s relationship with Doug Seal, Lombard’s rental and contract relationship director, who has arranged significant fleet funding lines.

“Lombard has a flexible approach to how it supports Europcar Mobility Group UK business and we certainly anticipate that this flexibility will continue to underpin our relationship in the future,” Smith says. “Our working relationship with Lombard is very strong and Lombard has always been very supportive of us. The ongoing dialogue means that Lombard understands the needs and pressures of our business and therefore is able to support us effectively.”

How will automated & electric vehicles change the world?

Listen to Podcast

Download report

Read Case Study

  • Image removed.
  • Podcast


    The end of petrol: we debate the challenges and opportunities of electric cars

    Listen to podcast Image removed.

  • Insight Report


    How electric and automated vehicles are changing the world

    Download now Image removed.

  • Age of Disruption


    Embracing business agility in an ever-changing world

    Learn more

    Bumps in the road

    For electric vehicles to become truly universal, Britain needs to radically increase the availability of charging points. This is “the biggest challenge”, says Smith: “to ensure the charging infrastructure supports the increasing footprint of electric vehicles on UK roads”.

    The impetus for this step-change will come from the pressure to reduce emissions imposed by central and local government - and Europcar Mobility Group is working with HM Treasury and the Government to help it achieve its target of net zero emissions by 2050.

    But for Europcar Mobility Group, the old cliché that every challenge is an opportunity rings true. “I firmly believe that businesses like ours can play a fundamental role in helping organisations manage how their people and goods get around,” Smith says.

    Smith says the firm is “wholeheartedly committed” to the integration of electric vehicles into its fleets. “We already use electric vehicles to support our deliver-and-collect services, thereby reducing emissions for getting vehicles to and from our customers,” he explains.

    Other Europcar Mobility Group subsidiaries have specialised in electric vehicles. “Ubeeqo with its electric car share brand, E-Car Club, also offers access to electric vehicles for personal car use around the country as well as for public and private sector organisations aiming to reduce their emissions.”

    For Europcar, and for Lombard, the key to steering into an uncertain future is to stay flexible - and listen to what customers want.

    To find out more about how autonomous and electric vehicles are changing the world, download our in-depth report

    To find out how Lombard could help your business or to get a free quote, visit, call us on 0800 502 402, or text Relay 18001 0800 502 402

    Security may be required. Product fees may apply. Finance is only available for business purposes


    Russia’s debt default: what impact will it have on the Putin regime?
    Russian President Vladimir Putin with finance minister Anton Siluanov
    Business Briefing

    Russia’s debt default: what impact will it have on the Putin regime?

    How bad could the bear market get?
    US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell
    Talking point

    How bad could the bear market get?

    Why central banks are raising interest rates
    Andrew Bailey, the governor of the Bank of England
    Getting to grips with . . .

    Why central banks are raising interest rates

    Celsius: crypto lender sparks manic meltdown
    Celsius: ‘extreme market conditions’
    Business Briefing

    Celsius: crypto lender sparks manic meltdown

    Popular articles

    Are we heading for World War Three?
    Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
    In Depth

    Are we heading for World War Three?

    When will paper £20 and £50 notes expire?
    Paper banknotes
    Business Briefing

    When will paper £20 and £50 notes expire?

    What happened to Zara Aleena?
    Zara Aleena
    In Brief

    What happened to Zara Aleena?

    The Week Footer Banner