Electrification is not the solution
The Corporate Mobility panel discussion at the Fleet Europe Summit in Brussels on 10 November delivered helpful tips for both the demand and supply side. The lively and inspiring debate underlined the relevance of the topic of corporate mobility. This session was particularly well timed in view of the current climate change discussions being conducted during the COP26 in Glasgow.
The starting point for the panel discussion was that employee mobility needs are rapidly evolving, creating demand for more flexible and sustainable mobility solutions. The three panel members – Karen van den Boom (SVP and CEO of Sixt Benelux), Alain Visser (CEO of Lynk & Co International) and Georges Gilkinet (the Federal Minister of Mobility for Belgium) – proceeded to discuss how companies can make corporate mobility more sustainable, more practical and more attractive for their employees. At the end of the debate, one thing was clear: there are still many hurdles to be overcome before modern mobility solutions can fully meet people’s – and the environment’s – needs.
Modern mobility should be good for the environment, society and individuals
From an environmental perspective, many corporates have focused on the electrification trend. However, merely electrifying fleets is not the solution according to Karen van den Boom. “This will lead to other issues like energy supply and charging & parking infrastructure requirements, to name but a few.” In her view, the solution lies in combining various mobility concepts and providing maximum flexibility. “It’s also about solving the first and last-mile mobility needs by allowing people to make better use of public transport. Public transport needs to be more convenient and better accessible for the workforce. Modern mobility should make life without a car easier. Governments can play a role by stimulating the shift towards alternative mobility through examples such as setting zero-emission targets for company cars and by providing financial incentives”, stated Georges Gilkinet.
Collaboration within in the entire mobility ecosystem is key to success
However, offering only public transport as an alternative to the car is often a bridge too far for companies. “It’s the availability of an entire mobility ecosystem and collaboration between all parties such as government, public transport providers and mobility suppliers that is important to make corporate mobility a success,” emphasised Karen van den Boom. Companies can find it daunting to embark on the journey towards offering their employees alternative mobility concepts such as mobility budgets, and the panel members recognised the need for support. For the change to be implemented successfully, it needs to be seen from the end-user perspective. The challenge lies in achieving the necessary change in the employee mindset to favour alternative mobility rather than viewing it as a downgrade. “The corporate mobility programme should be cost-efficient and attractive to employees and offer a variety of solutions that fit the individual’s need, such as providing an e-bike scheme during the summer months and a car-sharing scheme during the wet and cold season.
The car is losing its allure as a status symbol
Statistics show that company cars provided to employees as a perk are often used for just 4% of the available time in a day. Moving to subscription-based and shared-mobility solutions rather than promoting vehicle ownership would optimise the utilisation of these assets, resulting in both environmental benefits and efficiency gains. On a positive note, this is being accelerated by a broader societal trend: “The car as a status symbol is fading away. Owning a car will quickly become old fashioned,” said Alain Visser, referring to the fact that the car increasingly being seen as a service rather than as a product. In the corporate world, this opens up new opportunities to offer a mobility as a service as well as a benefit to employees.