Q&A interview with Asset Alliance Group Chief Executive, Willie Paterson


What services can Asset Alliance Group offer customers with regards to electric vehicles?

As a group business, we have been arranging finance for EVs in the bus and coach sector for the last seven years. The urban nature of this sector, the depot-based overnight recharging stations and the public transport pressures aspect has allowed EVs to take off. Together with the range issues and lack of clarity on residual value expectations, these factors raise a number of challenges for EVs in the haulage and logistics sector. We know it’s coming, but unresolved issues will restrict it.  We are currently pre-ordering small volumes for those first adopters and expect some small movement in 2024-25 but not before.

Tell us about your recent purchase of DAF electric vehicles?

We pride ourselves on being independent and able to supply any manufacturer’s vehicles and trailers. We work hard to establish partnerships with all the major OEMs. DAF is the clear leader in the UK and as such it is a really important and positive relationship for us. We value their proactive approach to forward planning vehicle supply with us and we felt it was right to pre-order 1,500 tractors and rigids for this year and next. The deal is worth around £160m and shows the market that Asset Alliance Group can be trusted to deliver. The additional element of including EVs in the agreement confirms to operators that we have plans to support early adopters. We hope to continue ordering at similar levels with key manufacturers over the next two to three years.

What are your industry predictions for the next 12 months with regards to EVs?

The opportunity will be extremely limited in HGVs. We know corporate social responsibility is the single most significant driver for those organisations operating fleets or awarding contracts. Of course, in the LCV sector and urban deliveries we expect the share of EVs to continue to grow significantly. Low Emission Zones are ensuring that is the case and, where the price differential is less significant, we expect to see the next five years bringing a complete change towards EVs as standard. For HGVs, it really is too hard to predict right now until we see the balance move significantly on issues such as total cost of ownership, recharging infrastructure, range, residual values, battery disposal and insurance.

What is the strangest or most challenging job you have done?

It’s been pretty diverse. In the 1980s, as a teenager, I had a weekend job moving lorries for my uncle’s haulage business which really woke me up to hard work. I had a weekend DJ business as a young man which I loved and from there I worked in a number of asset finance business development roles where I’ve stayed for some 30 years. In terms of the most challenging, it has to be setting up and building the current Asset Alliance Group business through two recessions, Brexit and Covid. It has been a hugely challenging and yet rewarding fifteen years. Seeing something grow from two people to 130 staff with a great family culture is something I’m very proud of.

If you had your time again would you have followed the same career path?

My dream job would have been a professional rally driver. But I can honestly say that I feel I’ve had a fantastic career and never a dull moment so I would be hard pushed to beat it.

If you had been reincarnated, who or what do you think you were in a past life?

Wow, there’s a question. A Yo-yo! My biggest strength and weakness combined is that I never know when to give up, I just keep coming back for more.

If you could invite four people to a dinner party – living or dead – who would they be – and why? 

Elvis – it would be great to try and really understand who the real Elvis was.

Jim Clark – in my opinion the greatest ever racing driver of all time and a great human being to boot.

David Howell Evans, better known as The Edge (U2) – what a truly talented individual.

Warren Buffet – the American business magnate must surely have a few investor tips.

 What are your passions outside the workplace?

I love car rally driving and other forms of motorsport. It’s one of the very few things that requires total concentration and therefore is a complete break from thinking about work. I also enjoy a round of golf.

If they made a film about your life who would play you?

Jim Carrey

Describe yourself in five words?

Tenacious, passionate, loyal, deep, direct

Favourite holiday destination?

Right now it’s California as my son is over there and I really enjoy getting to visit him. I am desperate to tour New Zealand and would love to go there sometime soon.

What car do you drive?

I currently have a BMW X7 (mild hybrid) but recently driven the new BMW i7 and was massively impressed with that.


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