Welcome to Fleet Auto News Balz. Firstly, let’s understand what your company Fleetcompetence does. Can you tell us about that please?
We are an independent company founded in 2011, established to design economical and sustainable business mobility solutions. We have an international team, covering 40 markets, including all over Europe and in the U.S. We have 55 senior fleet management experts and our customers’ fleets comprise as many as 50,000 vehicles. Once we are engaged we achieve an average cost reduction of 20 percent.
I’d like to talk about the most pressing challenges of the moment, and I guess the advent of coronavirus and the disruption it is causing is the number one topic? Can you tell us what impact it is having in the initial stages as we talk here in early March 2020?
Firstly, we had to cancel our seventh International Fleet Meeting in Geneva, which should have been part of the official program of the Geneva International Motor Show. That hurt. But our consulting business was also badly affected. There are some of our customers whom we are no longer allowed to visit on site because of the coronavirus. This means that we have to travel less and make more video conferences. We expect this to continue in the near future.
Can you tell us about shifts in demand for fleet management consultancy services like yours in recent times. Has the plethora of data that’s now available increased demand for specialist services?
Above all, we are feeling strong demand for intelligent mobility solutions. Away from the company car, towards new, combined mobility solutions and mobility budgets. A lot is happening right now. Because of the switch to WLTP [Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure for carbon dioxide emissions], the topic of electric mobility is also at the forefront of many companies, especially in order to reduce the average CO2 emissions of their fleet. And then, cost optimisation of existing mobility solutions will certainly continue to be a major issue.
What are other areas that are particularly challenging for fleet management in Europe at the moment?
The issue of mobility budgets and taxation. What does a mobility budget mean for the employee from a tax perspective? Then the topic of incentive systems for electric vehicles. How can the (even) higher procurement costs be justified. Are there interesting tax incentives? Do companies offer incentives to make this type of mobility attractive to their employees?
Australia is a laggard in adoption of electric vehicles in fleets compared with Europe. Can you talk about how fleets are incorporating EVs and why some countries here are doing it at a faster rate than others?
This may well be due to the fact that certain countries in Europe have taken very interesting promotional measures. On the one hand, these are interesting subsidies, but also highly interesting tax incentives.
As you have said you were disappointed the international fleet meeting you organise was cancelled recently. In this time of COVID-19 when things like social distancing is trending, can you talk about that meeting and why it’s helpful for people to get together in such settings. What do we lose from it not going ahead?
The International Fleet Meeting in Geneva is unique. We have already held this successfully six times. It is the only event of its kind within the framework of an international car show. And it always takes place during the exclusive press days. We offer the fleet industry a perfect networking and exchange opportunity. And it is a real pity that we were not able to hold the event this year. Once again we had a lot of very interesting guests from many countries on the list of participants. About half are fleet managers and mobility managers. This makes the event highly interesting for our sponsors and media partners.
Finally, I’m wondering if it’s possible to see any long-term changes in mobility or fleet management work practices coming out of this coronavirus event?
Yeah, that’s a really exciting point. We assume that at least in the next six to 12 months months mobility behaviour should change completely —away from air travel and public transport to private company cars, video conferencing and home office. The rental car business also seems to be booming at the moment, because many company employees currently prefer to rent a company car rather than travel by train or bus. Who would have thought that two months ago. Unbelievable how quickly something can change radically.