With two fleet summits, one about Europe and the other about Asia Pacific (APAC), taking place less than two months apart, it’s beneficial for global fleet managers to understand the similarities and the differences between the regions.
What it means to be a region in the fleet world
It’s still insisted by some that APAC isn’t a fleet region while there’s not much debate about Europe.
Let’s examine the arguments. Many believe that the differences in language, culture, market maturity, taxation and vehicle preferences across APAC prohibit it from region status. However, many of those differences are also present throughout Europe.
The more valid consideration is that European regional fleet structures have been in place for over 15 years. In APAC, those infrastructures are being developed now to meet client needs. This is creating a need for the rest of the fleet ecosystem (OEM, leasing companies, telematic providers, etc.) to adopt a more regional structure.
Our Global Alliance — with ALD in Europe, MUL in South East Asia, MAL in Japan and Shouqi in China — is building a stronger coverage area. I am convinced that in four to five years, we will see mature regional organization thanks to the experience from others like Europe or LATAM.
Both regions have a high population density. In Europe, what we could already see is that fleet organizations are starting to take the driver’s seat in pushing smart mobility solutions. To see concrete examples, I would recommend that you pay attention to Alexandra Melville from Accenture when she presents the pilot, she has been running in her organization to test a mobility budget supported by the ALDmove app. You could also check out what Ferenc Hegedus from IBM presented.
In APAC, the message is even stronger. In many cities in Indonesia, China and India, a vehicle isn’t a good option because roads are too congested, there isn’t enough parking infrastructure, or the government is limiting the number of vehicles on the road.
Of course, you can always delay your mobility projects by a few years because you want the technology to be even more impressive. But there is real work to do with your own organization right now to embrace the smart mobility approach. It’s never too soon to start this journey. Run a pilot in a few countries. Make a test on a specific driver population. And learn and take your stakeholders with you.
These summits have reinforced my impression that the connected vehicle is an enabler in efficiently deploying a seamless fleet strategy. As John Saffrett, deputy CEO of ALD said, “Data is only useful if it tells you something you didn’t already know.” I would just add that it should be something you care about.
If you roll out a very ambitious safety strategy, connected vehicle technology can help you. Same goes for electric vehicle and mobility programs. But you should already have an idea of what the data will be used for before you start the journey.
We all know that information is power. If, as a global or regional fleet manager, you have data that helps you highlight the similarities across your fleets and regions, you will be able to encourage the countries to work more closely together.
The main challenge is that, while everyone sees a playing field here, the rules have yet to be written. OEMs, fleet management companies, fleet managers and telematic providers all want access to data but each are reluctant to share what they have collected themselves. However, we can expect this issue to be settled over the next couple of years.
Sustainability steals the show
Electric vehicle was the most substantial topic across both conferences. It tied all the other topics together and was also very real and central to all fleet stakeholders. In Europe, the cost parity between EVs and a traditional petrol or diesel vehicle is achieved in some markets and within reach in many others. The main factor is obviously the tax system. But it triggers a virtuous circle of economies of scale that will make it sustainable on its own in the future.
China is the first EV market in the world. Japan is growing very fast and they are taking the other countries with them. Some markets will probably take a bit more time to take off but the benefits of EVs when you have such a high density of population and a strong pressure on the environment are very apparent.
Electric mobility has accelerated during the pandemic. It is perceived by many employees as a real benefit and a natural cornerstone in smart mobility. For international clients, Europe is a great laboratory for electric vehicles as they can be offered as an option in the local vehicle policy, allowing them to engage a population of early adopters and create enthusiasm in the organization.
Overall, these regions are very different today, but trends will bring them closer in the next three to five years. Also, I cannot stress enough the central role that sustainability will play in the global and regional fleet market. When clear goals are set within an organization, this is the first corporate mandate given to fleets that has a clear and positive message that delivers measurable outcome.
What other trends have you noticed within the European and APAC regions? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.