The changing face of global fleet management: Which approach is best?

    Thursday, May 20, 2021

    As the Athlon Donlen Alliance celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, it was the perfect opportunity to jointly participate in the recent Global Fleet Conference. Marchel Koops, Chief Commercial Officer of Athlon and Tom Callahan, Chief Executive Officer of Donlen gave their view in a session called: ‘Global Support or Regional Suppliers? How Do You Get the Best of Both Worlds?’

    Marchel Koops and Tom Callahan

    There is no overall one size fits all
    In the areas of telematics, safety and reporting a uniform global approach can be beneficial and recommended. Topics where your lease partner can offer you true added value since they have the complete picture and expertise. 

    This being said, the two executives recommend a regional approach, because different market dynamics,  legislation, taxation and leasing models require specific solutions. The leasing specialist should really listen to the needs of the customer and align these with the local circumstances.

    In Europe, there is clearly a transition to EVs. Some markets are mature and are ready now for this technology but even if it’s not everywhere yet, it will be coming soon. This change has come about rapidly, as demonstrated by the fact that many customers now have clear KPIs on sustainability in their fleet.

    In North America, the pace of this evolution to EVs is slower, as illustrated by the fact that customers only want a part of their fleet to become electrified. And electric vans and trucks don’t yet exist … but rest assured they are on their way. This, coupled with the fact that battery costs will continue to come down, makes the use case for electrification more and more appealing.

    The impact of the pandemic
    The pandemic has been the trigger for companies to ask and answer essential questions, such as: Is our company car policy still the right one? What do we do with all these idle vehicles? Are there other mobility solutions instead of, or in addition to, a company car in dense urban areas?

    The issue of sustainable mobility and a reduction in car numbers has been on the agenda for several years, but it was always a dilemma as fleet managers wondered how employee behaviour could be altered. All this has been transformed by the pandemic. It has provoked changes at Athlon as well, as virtually overnight the company shifted to fully remote home working. And with success too.

    The pandemic has accelerated a move to more flexible mobility solutions especially in Europe. In terms of the shift to more flexible mobility, Europe is one step ahead of America providing interesting use cases. In North America, there has been an additional emphasis on leasing and sale-leasebacks, particularly in mid-market sized companies, as they’ve looked to generate cash.

    And what advice for the future?
    Marchel Koops: “It’s clear that the days when average leases of ‘4 years and 40,000 km’ are gone. This is an opportunity for the fleet market business to reinvent itself from scratch and be more flexible, sustainable and digital towards customers. Furthermore, with demand from employees shifting, how can the industry offer a mobility package that meets requirements today … and tomorrow, without adding complexity to the process?”

    Tom Callahan: “Besides keeping processes simple, it’s also important that fleet managers understand and take on board the company’s corporate sustainability goals. If they do, they’ll certainly receive the full support of the C-suite. Sustainability targets will become the new norm, and this will include new mobility solutions, electrification and a smarter way of managing the fleet.”

    Watch the video here