Renault has launched Easy Lease, aiming to digitise the entire customer journey from vehicle configuration to contract signature. This would give users the option to complete every aspect of their vehicle purchase online.
Renault launched trials of the new purchasing plans in several countries and has chosen Italy to facilitate its public launch. Easy Lease allows customers to build their model, including chosen options, and then explore their long-term rental packages. The platform has been built together with Renault dealerships, who will deliver the vehicle once the purchase is complete.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed some attitudes when it comes to buying vehicles online. Carmakers are investing more than ever before in new purchasing platforms, as they hope to mirror trends seen in other retail markets.
The online site will ask drivers to choose the duration of their lease and the related mileage. They then identify themselves, share the information required to apply for operational leasing and, finally, sign their contract online. RCI Bank and Services provide the operational leasing without any interruption to the online process.
The operational lease offer is designed to give the customer as much peace of mind as possible. Packages include third-party liability, a guarantee and vehicle maintenance as well as breakdown assistance.
Initially, Italy will offer two vehicles at the launch of Easy Lease, the Clio and Captur, before extending it to other models. This next phase will also see various drivetrain options added, including LPG, hybrid and battery-electric vehicles.
‘With this initiative, our aim is to complete the range of journeys we offer our customers with a 100% digital journey, built with RCI Bank and Services and our dealer network, which remains at the heart of our retail strategy,’ commented Fabrice Cambolive, SVP, Renault Brand, Sales & Ops.
There are concerns over the future of physical dealerships should too many vehicle purchases move online. In the wider retail world, numerous shops and brands have closed due to a lack of footfall.
Vehicle purchasing has been slow to move online. However, the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a change in priorities. With dealerships closed throughout Europe due to lockdowns, new-car registrations plummeted. It is a testament to the industry that the entire year was not written off. Online sales platforms were developed, and dealers played a part in this.
An example of the good work can be seen in the UK new-car market. In April 2020, the first full month of the country’s lockdown, just 4,321 registrations took place. In March 2021, the last full month of the country’s latest lockdown, even with dealerships closed, 283,964 units were registered. Even considering the country’s number-plate change and leasing renewals, that is a considerable increase at a time when customers were not allowed into showrooms.
However, the automotive industry is placed differently. As discussed in the Autovista Group webinar, How automotive megatrends affect used-car markets, a car is a large-scale purchase, and therefore dealerships will often have a role to play, including the arrangement of test drives and collection. Indeed, Tesla announced in 2019 that it was closing its dealership network, only to backtrack a short time later by stating half of its locations would remain open.
‘The dealer network is indeed key,’ added Cambolive. ‘It is an essential human-contact point to reassure the customer and guarantee the best experience at the delivery stage. The Easy Lease omnichannel strategy - digital and network - has also been accelerated by the COVID-19 context and successive periods of confinement. With Renault Easy Lease, the Renault brand has acquired a major asset in a context of changing consumer purchasing habits.