CARA “ready for tomorrow’s challenges"
Some bumped fists, others touched elbows. The more daring types at CARA’s 2021 General Assembly, this Monday in Brussels, even shook hands. There may have been some variation in post-covid greeting etiquette, but on one thing everybody agreed: it was exciting to meet in person again. “We’re in a different world than before the pandemic. But we as Europe’s vehicle remarketing association are ready to take up tomorrow’s challenges”, said CARA president Wolfgang Reinhold.
It was a bit like that scene at the start of a superhero movie sequel: after too much time spent apart, the team reassembles – ready for action. Well, maybe a little bit. But the excitement was palpable. And backed up by the results of CARA’s own survey.
The European Car Remarketing Association – also known as CARA – had asked its members about the future. The future of remarketing, and of CARA itself. “Networking” was high up on the list of the advantages its members found in the organisation, and for that, of course nothing beats meeting in person.
Some other results of the survey, conducted in the past few weeks and presented at the GA by Svenja Vloeberghs:
- Asked about the future of the used-car market in Europe, 61% predict prices will continue to increase in 2022. Only 9% see used-car prices decrease, while 30% think they will remain stable.
“Of course, it’s all linked to volume. I recently visited a dealer in Düsseldorf who usually has 400 used cars on his forecourt – now it was just 40”, observed Mr Reinhold.
- Hot remarketing industry topics? EVs, of course, although only 22% said so. More (26%) were focused on cross-border remarketing, but even more (35%) said market changes were what concerned them most.
“We see more and more online platforms offering used vehicles directly to the end customers. This concerns a lot of remarketers”, said Johan Verbois, Fleet Europe’s remarketing expert and CARA board member.
- Of the three main deliverables that CARA focuses on, 65% of members thought in-car data was a useful topic, while 56% said the same about battery health, and only 35% agreed this was the case for fair wear and tear.
“Upon closer inspection, that low figure was because many found the information used in the FW&T guide outdated. That is now being updated”, said Ms Vloeberghs.
- Many CARA members said they wanted the organisation to gain more visibility, be present at more events and partner with other organisations – some of the ways they said the organisation would add more value to their membership.
“We got similar replies when asking about how to gain new members. So we’re going to act on these insights”, said Mr Reinhold.
CARA’s focus on deliverables is designed to produce tangible results that benefit Europe’s entire vehicle remarketing industry. In terms of in-car data – more precisely: who gets to own and/or use that data – the current tug of war is between OEMs and everybody else. Developed earlier this year, CARA’s standpoint paper advocates for free access. That point has recently been endorsed by CITA, the influential International Motor Vehicle Inspection Committee, said CARA board member Dirk-Marco Adams.
Battery health will become a crucial factor for deciding the residual value of used EVs. CARA is working towards an independently verified State of Health (SoH) certificate, which if generally adopted by the remarketing industry could have a major beneficial effect on used-EV remarketing. CARA doesn’t want to own the means to verify battery health, but it wants to set the parameters for an efficient one, explained project leader Roland Gagel: fast, mobile, cost-effective, and not creating too much extra hardware.
Mr Verbois explained the idea behind the CARA Academy: specialised training in all aspects of remarketing by specialists in remarketing. The uptake in 2021 was minimal, but the project will persist, with 24 sessions planned in 2022. “Setting up a training module takes time,” said one CARA member. “I’m optimistic about the future for the CARA Academy.” Another member, whose colleagues had followed a number of sessions this year, spoke highly of the programme’s quality. To be continued.
The pièce de resistance was a presentation by Richard Knubben, a representative for Leaseurope, the trade organisation for Europe’s leasing industry – vehicular and otherwise. But still: mainly vehicular: “Vehicles are the most leased assets in the world”, he said.
Corridors of power
One of CARA’s medium-term ambitions is to gain the attention and have the ear of influential Europarlementarians, Commissioners and other EU officials. An association with Leaseurope – an organisation well at home in the corridors of power in Brussels – would seem like an important step in the right direction.
Although Mr Knubben painted a complex picture of the politicking that goes on in those corridors, and one in which the OEMs – who employ a lot more people than Europe’s lease companies – seem to have easier access to the relevant Commissioners, particularly when it comes to the important topic of, again, in-car data.
Still, Mr Knubben’s insights into the political and long-term operational strategy of Europe’s vehicle manufacturers provided exactly the kind of high-value insider knowledge that remarketing professionals will have a hard time finding anywhere else than at a CARA meeting. Unless of course at the Fleet Europe Remarketing Forum, which takes place this Tuesday, also in Brussels.
Participants of the CARA General Assembly, pictured at The Square in Brussels.
Image: Benjamin BROLET