Last November Jochen Schmitz succeeded Knut Krösche as Head of International Fleet at Volkswagen Financial Services. It’s a role he commands with a wealth of experience that began with Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Then, between 2005-2010 he worked for Fleet Logistics and HPI before moving to Volkswagen Group to have a leading role in sales and marketing at SEAT. Captivated by the idea of a holistic approach to movability, in 2012 he joined Volkswagen Financial Services’ International Fleet team and became Head of Implementation Management and Consulting. In 2014 Schmitz assumed responsibility for CarMobility, the fleet management division of Volkswagen Leasing in Germany.
Renovating the market place
“It’s great to be back in the international fleet business”, he proclaims, promising that in 2018 Volkswagen Financial Services aims to revamp the market place with a new corporate solution guaranteeing fully integrated mobility management.
“I’m convinced the leasing and fleet market has to evolve further into mobility management, in which Telematics and the integration of fleet and travel will be vital. We aim to be one of the drivers of that transition.
In March 2017 we launched Fleet Connected, our Telematics solution. Next year we will roll out an integrated Mobility Management platform that will allow employees to select and follow up company car related elements, alongside complete travel management. This could include hotel bookings, flight reservations, car rental services, parking and other modes. Mobility managers within employers will be able to receive consolidated reports and invoices for the complete mobility circle of their staff. Going from TCO (total cost of ownership) to TCM (total cost of mobility) will be a reality and we’re aiming to be the first, or one of the first, to bring it to our customers.”
Launching a multibrand option
Jochen Schmitz’s recent change of role from CarMobility to Volkswagen Financial Services means he can now lead this push from the front.
“We are rolling out CarMobility to other countries to increase our fleet portfolio with fleet management services. As I’m responsible for the international fleet customers, my division will be the contact point for them and prospects of Volkswagen Financial Services outside of Germany.”
This, alongside expanding with a multi-brand offering across Europe, are among Schmitz’s objectives for the next years.
“Europe is our home region and it’s important, by volume as well as margins. This will continue. We have a solid international team and have supplemented this by hiring local people with expertise.
In terms of new coverage, we have recently launched our fleet sales in Turkey. Despite its economic volatility and political instability, it remains one of the largest markets in Europe and shows great potential with 80 million people, a growing economy and the presence of international companies.
Outside of Europe we are planning to increase our activities in China, which remains an interesting and promising market.”
Priming for international markets
Jochen Schmitz feels this is how to best serve multinational customers; by offering a global solution with local knowledge. “We like to make things easy for our customers so we continue to develop centrally managed tools that can interface local CRM solutions. In this way, customers can have a consolidated view of their International and European fleet in one click. Additionally, we share the same focus as our parent company [Volkswagen Group] on e-mobility and integrated mobility.”
International markets continue to be important. Jochen Schmitz explains: “The B2B customer is increasingly significant. By way of example, we are growing our international customer portfolio consistently. Retail and private business is stable, if not slightly decreasing, fleet business is expanding and playing a vital role in business growth. There’s every indication this will continue and we have strong support from the Volkswagen Group.”
Many people have the perception that Volkswagen Financial Services is the captive lease company of Volkswagen Group.
“Beside our multi-brand capability we can’t and don’t hide the fact that we are part of Volkswagen Group and there are advantages for our customers that come from that”, says Jochen Schmitz. “What we have to do is demonstrate a broader appeal. The market is consolidating and our customers want that to permeate through to services. We can offer that today, plus it ties in with our future developments. There are customers that prefer working with multi-brand suppliers, and others that want to partner with an OEM captive. We deliver the best of both.”
Market consolidation has been a consistent feature of the automotive industry. We asked if Volkswagen Financial Services is planning any acquisitions in the near future?
“In general we have to differentiate between our core market activities and new activities. When it comes to leasing and fleet management, no acquisitions are planned at the moment. The strategy is, however, to develop our offering with new mobility services as we have in the past.”
Examples of this include our acquisition of the parking company PayByPhone from Vancouver at the end of 2016 and our controlling share in LogPay from the beginning of 2017. Logpay specializes in fuel and toll management.
These are undoubtedly exciting times for Jochen Schmitz and his team. With renewed enthusiasm, he can look forward to the many challenges associated with delivering a true mobility solution to international markets.