David Hickman

The irresistible societal forces calling for and demanding greater sustainability are driving change as never before. For all of us working within the commercial vehicle industry, exciting and challenging times lie ahead for sure. Every automotive manufacturer is now designing, developing and introducing their vehicles of the future, meaning the advent of the zero emissions transport technology age is now well and truly upon us.

As you might expect, to date it has been the car manufacturers – both the established players and the newly arrived disrupters – who have taken the lead. But the commercial vehicle industry is not far behind, as demonstrated by Scania's recent launch of its electric vehicle range.

For operators, the transition to zero emissions technology from the internal combustion engine will be every bit as dramatic as the move from horse and cart to steam power was in its day. And change, of course, brings concerns – especially with regard to cost, and there is no doubt whatsoever that electric vehicles will attract a price premium over their conventionally-fuelled predecessors.

So how should those involved in funding vehicle purchases approach this issue?

At Scania Financial Services we see our role as facilitators, helping customers adopt the new technology with a minimum of stress and disruption to their businesses. To do this we will take a collaborative approach, working in close partnership with Scania's commercial team and our dealers to develop innovative and flexible solutions in order to make the new products affordable. A key part of this process will involve liaising with customers on an individual basis, digging deep into their business needs and demands and developing our offer accordingly.

We already have a team of commercial vehicle industry specialists within our business, so conducting this type of in-depth analysis is nothing new to us. By establishing affordability expectations, in terms of what an operator is prepared to pay per month, we can then work backwards to tailor a package appropriate to the need.

Another point to note is that as a manufacturer's captive finance provider we enjoy a unique position within the industry. A working group has been established with our colleagues at Scania (Great Britain), the purpose of which is to steer our organisation along the road to zero emissions. This group naturally has contact with the Scania factory in Sweden, which ensures we have access to the very latest views, information and business intelligence at all times. By building our knowledge base as the very first Scania battery electric vehicles enter the country, we will be able to hit the ground running when large scale adoption commences.

To conclude, the watchwords for us going forward will be collaboration, cooperation, flexibility and affordability. While it's true to say at the present time there are still more questions than answers as to how the transition to zero emissions transport will evolve, no-one is in a better place to face the future than companies such as Scania Financial Services, who by virtue of being a captive finance provider with an experienced industry team are able to view the broadest possible picture.

David Hickman, sales and marketing director, Scania Financial Services