What to do if you need a payment holiday on your van or pickup finance

  • Coronavirus pandemic is putting pressure on business finances
  • What to do if you’re worried about meeting your monthly payments
  • Issues and payment holidays will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis

With the enduring seriousness of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, some van and pickup owners and operators will be wondering how they’re going to be able to keep up with their finance and leasing payments. Don't worry - help is potentially at hand in the form of payment holidays.

To try and help with any concerns, we’ve been speaking to van and pickup manufacturers to see how they are responding to customer needs at this time – and the information we’ve been getting back has been overwhelmingly similar.

Without exception, all of them say that anyone who is facing financial difficulties and is concerned about meeting monthly payments should speak directly to their finance or leasing provider – whether that be the manufacturer directly or a third-party finance or leasing company.

What's more, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Britains's financial regulator, has said that all consumers affected by coronavirus can apply for a temporary freeze.

While decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis, it should be perfectly possible for many people to set up what’s known as a payment holiday if their needs require it.

What is a van payment holiday?

Whether it’s for a van, a car or your mortgage, a payment holiday works in the same way. It involves a customer temporarily stopping payments during a period of financial difficulty.

At the end of the payment holiday, the finance company then recalculates your monthly payments to make up for the shortfall.

This is attractive to both parties, because it helps the customer in the first instance but should still ensure the finance firm gets all of its money in the end.

Repossession of the vehicle in the event of non-payment will recover the asset for them, but in the current climate it may be difficult for them to re-sell that asset, so the option of continuing payments in the future should be attractive to them in most cases.

What is the finance and leasing industry saying?

Parkers Finance Editor, Murray Scullion, has been speaking to industry bodies and firms, and has found that they appear to be ready to work to meet customer’s needs – though some intervention from the government may be required.

The BVRLA – the British Vehicle Leasing and Rental Association – has already written to the chancellor asking for support for customers who will be struggling to make payments.

Meanwhile, major leasing sites such as leasing.com and Zen Auto are echoing the manufacturer response, saying people should talk to their finance providers.

A spokesperson for leasing.com told Parkers:

'Although the Coronavirus is a unique situation, finance companies are used to helping consumers experiencing financial difficulties.

'Any consumers who think they may be unable to keep up with repayments should contact the specific finance company who their lease agreement is with. They will be able to offer a variety of options, on a case by case basis.'

Meanwhile Zen CEO John Tracey said: 'As ever, we're here for customers. If any customers have concerns, call us and talk about it.'

Payment holidays for new vans

In a new development (6 April 2020) Ford is the first manufacturer offering payment holidays to NEW van buyers, as well as current customers. The 'Peace of Mind' programme runs April-May 2020 and offers customers three months of deferred payments, followed by a cash payment covering the next three months.

In May 2020, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles followed Ford's lead to begin offering a choice of finance packages where the first three months are payment-free on purchases of new vans from stock. These 'Back to Work' deals run until the end of June 2020. This is actually a discount rather than a payment holiday, though.

In June 2020, Renault joined it, with three-month payment holidays on new vans from stock and factory orders. This Drive Now Pay Later scheme applies right across the Renault Pro+ van range.

Van and pickup manufacturer advice about payment holidays

If you’re looking for info about a specific brand’s guidance about payment holidays, the rest of this page is devoted to the info we’ve received back from them.

In alphabetical order:

Fiat Professional

Fiat is communicating the following to its Fiat Automotive services and Leasys customers:

'We ask those customers who are experiencing payment issues to please contact our customer support team. We will look at the individual circumstances and address them on a case by case basis.'

Ford

The official line from Ford Credit is the following:

'With customers always a top priority, Ford Credit Europe offers a number of tools to help vulnerable customers regardless of the situation. These differ slightly country by country but currently include reduced payments, payment extensions, payment holidays and pre-arrears forbearance.

Additionally Ford Credit Europe are urgently preparing to introduce additional special measures to help anyone leasing or financing their car through Ford Credit to offset the potential economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Plans include extended payment arrangements, payment holidays for all markets, cancellation of late fees and charges, and flexibility on payment methods.'

See also the note above about Ford offering payment holidays for new van buyers - a very unusual development.

Iveco

Iveco is telling customers to contact their finance companies.

Mercedes-Benz Vans

Mercedes' statement is as follows:

'The health and safety of our customers, employees and business partners is our top priority and these measures are constantly updated, guided by current alerts and information from the World Health Organization (WHO).

'Mercedes-Benz Finance know that this is a difficult time for many of our customers. Some will be in financial difficulty and will understandably want to discuss what this may mean for their vehicle finance agreement.

'We ask that customers in this position email us at mbfscv@daimler.com and put “Coronavirus” in the subject line.'

PSA Group: Citroen, Peugeot and Vauxhall

The word from Groupe PSA, which includes the Citroen, Peugeot and Vauxhall brands, is that any customers struggling with payments should speak to their finance company. Each case will be treated independently.

Renault Pro+

The official statement from Renault is as follows:

'As a responsible lender, Renault Finance understands that a number of customers may be affected by the impact of COVID-19 Coronavirus. If any of our customers have been impacted, we will be here to support them. Customers can contact us via our customer portal, email or telephone to discuss any concerns they may have.'

Toyota Professional

We’ve checked with Toyota’s Financial Services Division, and again it’s an individual process on a case-by-case basis, rather than a blanket approach.

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles

We have an updated statement from Volkswagen Financial Services (VWFS) as of 28.04.2020, reproduced below:

'At VWFS, we have been working hard to make sure we have the best possible solutions for our customers during this difficult period. Our ultimate objective is to keep customers in their vehicles as long as possible, and we know that our customers have varying individual circumstances.

There are a number of options to support our customers who find themselves in financial difficulty; these include (not limited to) agreeing an affordable repayment plan over an extended period of time and allowing customers breathing space to consider their finances for up to 60 days.

'As always, we have been working closely with the regulator during this period and following the release of the FCA’s temporary final guidance on the 24 April, we are now offering payment deferrals (payment holidays) alongside our current solutions from Monday 27 April.

'We have responded to the guidance quickly, and have worked extremely hard to ensure customers are now able to submit a request for a payment deferral using our online form. 

'Each customer will have their own individual circumstances, and it’s important to note that the regulator acknowledges that a payment holiday may not be in the interests of all customers experiencing temporary financial difficulty and where it is not considered appropriate, organisations must offer other ways to provide temporary relief. We will work with the customer to provide the best possible solution for their individual needs and deferral requests are subject to a suitability check. This is to ensure that this will not worsen the financial situation of the customer, based on their individual circumstances.

'Customers can find more information about payment deferrals and how to apply, including FAQs, on our website.'

Also read:

>> Coronavirus COVID-19 advice for van and pickup drivers

>> Nine tips to keep your van in working order

>> Payment holiday advice for car drivers

>> Does my van or pickup need an MOT during the coronavirus pandemic?

>> Van and pickup warranty advice during the coronavirus pandemic