10 questions to Eugène Krabbenborg, CEO Fleet Support
Fleet Support is the leading provider of fleet and mobility solutions in the Benelux. Its path towards full-scale and tailored mobility consultancy builds on digitization and international expansion. We talk to Eugène Krabbenborg, CEO of Fleet Support, about the challenges that need to be navigated in 2023. “The complexity of the energy transition is a strong advocate for the type of outsourcing we answer to.”
1. Where does Fleet Support stand today as an organization, and where is it headed?
The company is in full transformation. We’re a national champion in fleet outsourcing, but we want to scale up and move across the borders along two axes: software and outsourcing. Last year, we started a greenfield in Germany, an ecosystem comprising our entire mobility services palette. First customers are now being handled. Fleet Support holds offices in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. But our software is present in 23 countries.
2. Fleet Support is a part of the AutoBinck Group, which keeps many different mobility brands under its umbrella. How does Fleet Support correlate to these other partnering companies, and how do clients find their way?
Good question. AutoBinck is a heritage name transforming from a traditional retail company into a mobility provider. AutBinck has four divisions: Automotive (car distribution and retail), Leasing, Ebinck (sustainability and energy) and Mobinck. The mobility division, Mobinck, consists of XXImo, SafeDrivePod, Moove, Mobinck Mobility Consulting, Toogethr and Fleet Support. Fleet Support is one of the matured business. XXImo offers a mobility pass for employees to plan their work-related travel, Mobinck Mobility Consulting consists of a small group of consultants, Moove is telematics-based fleet management intelligence, SafeDrivePod gathers data of interest to insurance companies and Toogethr looks at parking solutions. We cover the entire range. Customers can supplement if they want to. But there’s no compulsory shopping involved.
3. For fleet management in particular, how do you see its future?
At specific customers, you see this transition from the traditional leasing car to other forms of mobility. So, the big fleets will shrink, but it differs very much from region to region. We also witness the unstoppable pace of electrification. Nevertheless, the company car remains a quintessential part of an employer’s mobility package. Especially to attract new talent. But it has become a solution in a much broader pallet of mobility forms, spreading across a company’s structure.
4. Why should a customer - say, from Paris - reach out to Fleet Support and not a closer player which can offer a similar plate of various services?
Fleet Support is an independent specialist with several international clients. We don’t finance, but we consult. We also procure for customers, from those companies like ALD, Arval or a combination of leasing firms, but we’re not bound to a particular supplier. So, we can have a detailed look with the customer to see which models fit their profile best and analyze what exactly they want to outsource and what not. We also help them with risk control and guarantee pricing in line with the market during the contract duration. So, we’re in a director’s chair, really.
5. Lately, customers, who are always in the position of cost management, faced a lot of headwinds. They were confronted with delayed lead times, surging energy prices and increasing interest rates. At the same time, car makers were declaring interesting profits. How easy or hard is it to navigate in between?
It’s been relatively easy if it’s about prices. But, what you see is an increasing amount of questions from clients. The previous streamlined process of replacing a car after the contract’s end isn’t regular anymore. Often there’s an in-between solution needed, like a pool car. So, the chain has lost some of its efficiency. We have the tools to benchmark the pricing; there’s no issue there. But if the market goes up, well... nobody can really manipulate that.
6. To what extent are fleet managers opening their car policies to new players? I mean Chinese brands, who can deliver promptly where the well-known names fail...
Electrification has changed the clustering that we witnessed previously. Because of availability, the scope of the offerings is widening. The zero-emission transition is fueling this multi-brand strategy. To succeed, Chinese brands must sort out their local servicing network and infrastructure.
7. What trends do you spot for 2023?
Because of the economic recession, the focus on cost will only grow. Recession is basically a move backwards, triggering more vigilance for cost across corporations. Since our business isn’t cycle-sensitive, I don’t expect a dip for Fleet Support. I don’t expect the market for company cars to dwindle, either. The labor market is too tight for that. It remains a stronghold as a perk, especially in The Netherlands and Belgium. The question, rather, is how the surging electricity prices will affect TCO, budget and travel. It leads to other questions that demand a more holistic look at corporate mobility policies. We offer our clients more than 30 years of experience with cost management and have the largest independent database in the Benelux to compare costs, so we are well equipped to help our clients.
8. Well, in countries like Belgium and The Netherlands but also in big cities, the shift from fleet to mobility is the talk of the town. What’s your take on it?
It’s making its mark. We see the rate of stakeholders in mobility increasing rapidly. The leasing car remains central, but the mobility services around it are growing. It’s a different target audience, though. Another issue is charging infrastructure. So, you see that the energy transition complexity is actually an advocate for the type of outsourcing we answer to. The need for partnerships is more significant than before, I mean the time when all that mattered was a company car.
9. Don’t you think the transition to mobility is happening slower than the press and stakeholders thought a couple of years ago?
Yes, it might be happening slower than expected. But I see things moving from the official policymakers embracing a more horizontal look to mobility, and that’s where it starts. The momentum is building up, we see that from our own ventures. But the uptake speed will also depend on the speed of technological development.
10. On the supplier side, we see a consolidation wave happening. Both among leasing companies - as with ALD and LeasePlan - as with mobility providers. Is this beneficial for the customer in the end?
I believe so. This trend has been going on for a while. The first wave happened a couple of years ago. You see these companies growing bigger, more efficient and more digital. It’s inevitable. But I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Building up these economies of scale across borders helps grow the services portfolio. And, it’s not a hazard to the added value from Fleet Support. We’re well equipped to meet this trend.