The OEM business model, on the way to mobility

On March 6, the acquisition by the PSA Group of GM’s European business (the Opel/Vauxhall brands) was officially announced. With increasingly important global Groups, the vehicle manufacturers’ business model is changing and transforming from being an automobile manufacturer into becoming a provider of mobility services.

Even more global and significant players

The purchase of Opel/Vauxhall by PSA Group is the talk of town in car manufacturers’ land. Logical, as the new group will be the second largest automotive manufacturer in Europe, behind the Volkswagen Group.

Whether by acquisition or alliance (with cross-shareholdings), is an ongoing issue. The recent examples of Toyota and Suzuki’s discussions about an alliance, the Mitsubishi acquisition by Nissan, reflect a willingness by car manufacturers to increase volumes and know-how, to develop economies of scale and to become more competitive in the global automotive market.

Multi-brand players, with a wider range of products (cars, commercial vehicles, even trucks, buses and other mobility modes) are the future.  Along with this business development aspect, it will be interesting to follow-up on the Chinese manufacturers’ global approach.

Yes, leading global automotive groups are and need to be multi-brand, multi-range to serve changing client demands.

From automotive manufacturer to provider of mobility services

But the automotive manufacturers’ fundamental evolution is their business model, from automotive manufacturer and seller into a provider of mobility services, this is the great move.

The consumer, who wants to go from point A to point B wants to be managed by an easy-to-use platform linked to his smartphone to provide him with the safest, most comfortable and suitable trip, according to his needs and budget, including seamless payment and invoice control.

For the manufacturers, the management of the use of vehicles is a source of additional earnings but it is in fact mostly a brand support tool.

Provider of mobility services, why?

Fleet management or operational lease services are, for company vehicles, mobility cost elements. In my opinion, seeing these as such represents a key step for the achievement of this new business model into mobility.

Premium car manufacturers (BMW with Alphabet and Daimler with the Athlon acquisition) are already fully engaged in this process, just like others (Renault-Nissan and PSA for example).

Electric vehicles, which incorporate charging infrastructure and battery cost solutions, are also a catalyst in this mobility integration (Tesla for example).
The move towards connected and autonomous vehicles is the aim of the new technology, to the benefit of greater mobility and playing a part in sustainable development.

The auto industry is mobility’s focal point but mobility as a consumer service is becoming the key issue in vehicle marketing.

Provider of mobility services, how?

  • By becoming a key player, with a dedicated organisation where the financial subsidiary can be the ‘armed wing’.
  • By delivering mobile services managed by software platforms and mobiles apps.
  • Through internal developments, company acquisitions or stakes, support for start-ups.

Provider of mobility services, but in order to do what?

Some development areas already initiated today:

  • In B-to-B Fleet management, a mature domain in mobility costs and payment management. This is, for a provider, the most direct link to the B-to-B market, a high user of mobility.
  • In short and mid term rental.
  • In car sharing, for vehicles and shuttles services, within companies or in cities.
  • Multi-modal transport, including booking and payments.
  • Taxis.
  • Remote vehicle diagnostics and parts deliveries.
  • Commercial Vehicles adaptations, deliveries management and robotized mobile warehouses.
  • Smart service for drivers
  • Electric car services.

These developments – global multi-brands car groups turning into mobility service providers – will impact on the relationship with corporate fleet managers.

The PSA – Opel/Vauxhall deal practically eliminates General Motors from European tenders and sharply reduces GM’s player position in global RFP’s. On the other hand it reinforces PSA’s position in European RFP’s, thanks to the strong Opel/Vauxhall position in the fleet market in Germany and UK, but also in Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland and Austria.

In order to establish the right mid-term and longer-term strategy, corporate fleet managers should include elements involving  mobility service offerings in their RFI’s and RFP’s, which can and will make a difference in the selection of car manufacturers.

This brief analysis shows that we have still a long way to go. Car manufacturers which have begun this shift, are the pioneers of sustainable mobility. For corporate fleet managers, it is an opportunity, and an opportunity not to be missed.

Authored by: Robert Boscari