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9 Nov 21

10 electric lessons from the Remarketing Forum

“EVs are coming” – that was the title of Marc Odinius’ opening presentation at the Fleet Europe Remarketing Forum, this Tuesday in Brussels. All the experts agreed: electrification is bringing massive, industry-altering change, some of it still uncharted. How can remarketers navigate this paradigm shift and come out a winner? 

But that’s not all the 180-strong audience got. The Forum, emceed by Fleet Europe remarketing expert Johan Verbois, also delved into other topics: in a series of presentations and debates, 16 experts discussed turnover (how to increase it), refurbishment (new and better ways) and the future of remarketing (bright, if you’re with the times). 

Electrification, however, was the main topic before lunch. Legislators are focused on pushing new EVs, creating complexity at the tail end of the vehicle lifecycle, where those EVs must be remarketed. It’s a change that will create winners and losers. How to keep on the right side of automotive history? The attendees got the nitty-gritty. Here, we summarise 10 of the event’s most salient points on electrification.

1. Fleets lead the way

Based on Dataforce market insights, Mr Odinius, confidently predicted that by 2026, around half of all new-vehicle registrations in Europe will have an alternative powertrain – in most cases, BEVs or PHEVs. Corporate fleets, well ahead of the overall market, are pioneering the introduction. “Until at least 2026, most new EVs will be registered by corporate fleets, even though they make up a much smaller part of the overall market than the private segment.”

2. Subsidies work

One graph Mr Odinius showed looked like somebody having a heart attack – two violent spikes, both at year’s end. “This is the effect of the end of EV subsidies on the Dutch market: people rushing to buy EVs before the subsidies run out.” In other words: fiscal measures to push the introduction of new EVs do have a clear effect on the market. 

3. PHEV curve flattens

Not too long ago, PHEVs – hybrids with both combustion engines and electric motors – were the security blanket for drivers nervous about the switch to EVs. But comfort may turn into discomfort at the remarketing end. In multiple markets, pure-electric BEVs are starting to match the market share of PHEVs, and while the BEV curve continues to go up in Mr Odinius’ forecasts, the PHEV curve starts to flatten at the end. If hybrid technology falls out of favour, that could spell big trouble for their residual values a few years down the line. 

4. ZEV mandate for big fleets?

Corporate fleets represent about 20% of the EU car park, but – despite their pioneering role in electrification – contribute 55% of CO2 emissions by cars, said Saul Lopez, Manager of the Electric Fleets Programme at Transport & Environment, a Brussels-based lobby group. “That’s why we will propose a Zero Emission Vehicle mandate for big fleets by 2030. If large fleets are forced to buy BEVs, this huge volume of clean vehicles will eventually be remarketed and trickle into the general market.” Unless, of course, the general market doesn’t yet have a big enough appetite for EVs, in which case remarketers would be left holding the can.

5. Subsidies for used EVs

Mr Lopez presented another option to boost the spread of EVs: “Subsidies for the purchase of used EVs. Varying systems are in place in the Netherlands, Germany and France, which shows two things: some governments are starting to recognise the importance of supporting the used EV market. And those efforts are having a positive effect.”

6. Battery health matters

“Surveys show that range comes right after price as the biggest priority for used EV buyers”, said Roland Gagel, CARA Board Member and project leader of the organisation’s task force looking to establish the parameters for an independently verified battery health certificate. “In my estimation, batteries with at least 90% of the original capacity will be seen as good, while those with 80% or less will be seen as bad.”

7. Investments required

Bertrand Donck, CEO of Macadam, pointed out a costly truth: electrification will require remarketers to make considerable investments. Just one example: “EVs are 25% to 50% heavier. For transporting them, that means more wear and tear, higher fuel consumption, and eventually, other vehicles.” Defleeters will need to invest in charging infrastructure, and remarketers in general in acquiring the expertise to deal with EVs. 

8. Infrastructure could save ‘undesirable’ EVs

As the famous quote goes: it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future. While there is a lot of anxiety among remarketers about the (re)marketability of used EVs with a limited range, perhaps the ramping up of charging infrastructure will save the day. “When charging infrastructure becomes visibly ubiquitous, perhaps having an EV with low range won’t be seen as a problem anymore”, suggested Mr Lopez.

9. PHEVs – a short second life?

And perhaps the PHEV problem will also – quite literally – disappear, at the source. “I don’t think plug-in hybrids will stay around for a long time,” said Mr Odinius. “I’m not sure we’ll see a third or even a second generation of PHEV models from OEMs.”

10. A question, and an answer

The share of new EVs on the market is increasing by a factor of three each year. That means remarketing will have to deal with that influx a few years down the line. “So we don’t have much time,” said Mr Donck. “The question is: are we ready?” As the expert panel (pictured) just before lunch agreed: an industry that is self-aware enough to keep asking that question is on the right track to find the answer – and turn those who produce it into the winners of tomorrow.

Here you can find a video with the highlights of the day.

Attendees at the Fleet Europe Remarketing Forum were presented with the first edition of the Fleet Europe Remarketing Directory, with information on companies from across the entire remarketing ecosystem. Next week, the 14,000 members of the Fleet Europe community will receive a virtual copy.   

Image: Benjamin Brolet

Authored by: Frank Jacobs