I think we can make a good interview. We can talk about Swiss and European fleet trends, the warp-speed changes in the automotive world, and your readership’s favourite subjects, so I’m pleased we are able to connect by telephone today. I came to Switzerland to go to the international fleet meeting that was being held in conjunction with the Geneva International Motor Show. You were one of the chief organisers of the international fleet meeting. Can you tell us why it was cancelled and how you felt when it was cancelled?
Yeah, of course. We were all very disappointed when we found out that the international fleet meeting couldn’t take place. But in the weeks before it was to take place, the coronavirus cases in northern Italy increased, and northern Italy borders Switzerland so it was only a matter of time before the virus reached us. Therefore, the Swiss Federal Council (Swiss governing body) decided to cancel every event with more than 1,000 people and since the international fleet meeting goes hand in hand with the international motor show it was clear we would not be able to hold our event.
I think it was only the fourth time the fleet meeting was being held hand in hand with the Geneva International Motor Show. Can you tell us how many were registered to attend and what the idea of the event is?
We were expecting about 200 people from the fleet industry from all over the world. This year we wanted to focus on networking and allow a little bit more time for that. We also had Pim de Weerd, the global manager for mobility from Phillips — a big energy enterprise from the Netherlands — scheduled to give a presentation about transformation from fleet to mobility.
So as we’ve been discussing the coronavirus has been very disruptive in an immediate sense with the cancellation of the GIMS. What about other ways it is disrupting things in the fleet world? Have you any sense of that at this early stage as we’re talking in March 2020.
Yeah. Maybe one important effect could be employees increasingly prefer their own car instead of public transport because they are afraid of being infected. I’ve heard many people want to get a rental car now.
As editor of aboutFLEET — a publication like ours serving the fleet industry — can you tell us what are some of your readers favourite subjects?
Fleet management topics are very popular. Also, reports on alternative drive systems, car tests or interviews. Topics like the 10 best selling cars in Switzerland, or when a company gets some new fleet cars are things that people like to read.
I was wondering if you had any observations on how the role of a fleet manager may have changed, or be changing in the next decade? It was traditionally a role taken on by mechanical workshop manager. Is it now more of a key finance role, or even an information technology role with so much data to be analyzed. What are your thoughts?
I think in the past fleet managers were more or less vehicle buyers with some additional tasks. Now today and tomorrow mobility managers demand skills in mobility such as car sharing or combinations of public transport, rental cars, car pooling and so on. It is increasingly complex.