Features & Interviews

Five minutes with… James Horne, Dealer Partner Relationship Manager at Motability Operations

02 November 2023 #Features & Interviews

Can you tell us a bit about the history of Motability?

Motability Operations is the commercial organisation, delivering the Motability Scheme to more than 700,000 disabled people across the UK. We deliver smart, sustainable solutions that improve our customers’ mobility in a fast-changing world.

The Motability Scheme was set up in 1977 and the following year, Motability Operations was created to run the Scheme. Since we were founded more than 45 years ago, we have grown to be the largest leasing company in the UK, buying around 13% of all new cars in the UK each year.

We have more than 1,500 employees across offices in London, Bristol, Edinburgh and Coalville. We are also the largest supplier of used cars, selling around 220,000 cars each year through mfldirect, our B2B vehicle remarketing brand.

We don’t pay shareholder dividends, and the money we make is invested back into benefitting our customers and disabled mobility.

We are working hard to ensure no one is left behind as the UK transitions to EVs and have committed £300 million and a programme of tech and innovation projects to help customers make the switch.

How does the current Motability Scheme work?

The Motability Scheme provides worry-free mobility solutions to recipients of the government’s higher rate mobility allowance. Customers exchange their mobility allowance to lease a car, Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle, scooter or powered wheelchair through the Motability Scheme.

Customers lease their vehicle for 3-5 years in a worry-free package that includes insurance, roadside assistance, tyres, servicing and more. On average, our package is 45% cheaper than the cost of an alternative commercial leasing option.

At the end of the lease, customers choose a brand-new vehicle and we remarket their old vehicle at the best possible price.

How important is SMMT membership to Motability?

Very important – as the largest fleet operator in the UK, it is right that we are members of one of the largest and most influential trade associations in the country. SMMT’s convening power, influence and data all make it a valuable partner.

With 700,000 customers we have a unique voice in the automotive sector as a voice for disabled mobility and SMMT membership lets us raise important issues around accessibility, the EV transition and type approval on their behalf.

What types of wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) are available as part of the scheme?

The majority of our WAV customers travel in a wheelchair in a vehicle which typically includes a ramp and a winch. We offer a range of small, medium and large vans from the major vehicle manufacturers including the Ford Tourneo, the large wheelbase Volkswagen Caddy, Peugeot Rifter, Citroën Berlingo as well as the Dacia Jogger.

Also, we work with all of the top wheelchair accessible van converters such as Allied Mobility, GM Coachwork Group, TBC Conversions, and Sirus Automotive.

Do you provide battery electric wheelchair accessible vehicles?

We currently provide a limited number of electric models – for example, the Vauxhall E-Vivaro – in our large WAV category. To convert an electric vehicle into an eWAV, our suppliers have to make sure the position of the battery does not interfere with the lowered floor.

At the moment, there is no solution for converting a standard electric vehicle into a small or medium eWAV, and we are working with the industry to solve this problem. This includes our partnership with CALLUM, where we are looking to produce a working prototype that we can present to industry.

James Horne, Dealer Partner Relationship Manager at Motability Operations

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