Features
8 Jun 16

Future fleet management needs to be connected, integrated

Barely existent at the start of this century, Global Fleet Management is a relatively young and still fast-growing discipline. So what does the future look like? That was the focus for the first session of the second and final day of the Global Fleet Conference. 
 
First of all, an even wider geographic scope, said Steven Schoefs, Chief Editor of Global Fleet. “Only in the 1990s did OEMs start to build structures to better serve their clients outside their home markets. In a first phase, coverage extended across the Americas, Europe, Russia, China and Australasia. Only recently have the Middle East and South East Asia come into view”.
 
89.5 million sold
The Top 25 markets for light vehicle sales now include countries in all those regions – including Brazil over Saudi Arabia, India, Thailand and Australia, and even Iran. In 2015, global vehicle sales totalled 89.5 million, of which 16 million sold to corporate fleets. The total for 2016 is projected to be 92 million. 
For manufacturers, just being present in those markets is not enough. They must also cover the entire range of vehicles used by their clients, mirror client presence on global, regional and local levels with their various brands – and have dedicated fleet sales channels. 
 
Sales and prospects
Zooming in on each group's sales and prospects, Schoefs identified six OEM types:
→ Global leaders: Toyota Group and VW Group, who with their various brands sold around 10 million light vehicles (cars and LCVs) each in 2015. Projection for this year: “Stable to slight decline”.
→ Outsiders for leader position: GM, Hyundai-Kia, Renault-Nissan Alliance, each selling around 9 million light vehicles in 2015. The prospects for the Alliance are slightly positive, while the other two face a slight sales decline this year. 
→ Global challengers: Ford, selling 6.2 million light vehicles in 2015, with sales going up this year.
→ Medium global groups: Fiat Chrysler and Honda, each selling around 4.7 million in 2015 and going up in 2016; PSA Group, selling around 3.3 million in 2015, with a risk of a downward trend in 2016; and Suzuki, remaining stable at 2.8 million. 
→ Premium groups: BMW Group and Daimler, both up from 2 million in 2015.
→ Premium challengers: Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo Car Group, both selling around half a million in 2015, and stable, with JLR trending upward.
 
Brand attractiveness
Relating size to fleet preference, the missing link is the attractiveness of each brand. Globally, the Renault-Nissan Alliance is the most attractive, followed by Toyota, Hyundai-Kia, Ford and GM. But those results need to be seen in a more localised context, with brands often still performing best in their home markets. 
As for the future, OEMs will need to focus their fleet-oriented attention on integrated mobility, connectivity and big data management, and technology (including self-driving vehicles), Schoefs concluded.

Footprint reduction
After a quick-fire round in which the major fleet and lease companies presented their geographic scope and prospects (see this article), Lee Warner, responsible for Global Fleet and Transportation at Unilever presented a case study on his company's global fleet management optimisation – a strategy propelled by three goals: business growth, environmental footprint reduction, and optimising social impact. Interesting to note is that the multinational, which has 169,000 employees and is present in 190 countries around the world (i.e. virtually everywhere), generates 58% of its €53 billion turnover in emerging markets. 
 
Extremely fragmented
“We have a global fleet of 12,500 vehicles in 49 countries, with 85% leased and 15% owned, and 70% tool cars and 30% benefit cars. We work with 6 core leasing companies, but are looking to streamline our suppliers”, Mr. Warner said.
The global fleet management exercise, started two years ago, required a lot of effort, as Unilever's fleet management was extremely fragmented and decentralised: “We didn't know what we were spending or where we were spending it. There were good local processes, but we were working in silos”.
Unilever's ambitions were to ensure better value for money, and achieve higher driver satisfaction – while also reducing CO2 footprint and maintaining market competitiveness. The global OEM tender has been effected, but already the exercise is generating savings through leverage, simplification and value opportunities identified.
What lessons does Unilever have for others stating out on the same path? “Don't underestimate the time and resources needed. Include all relevant functions in the process. Local relevance is critical. And change management is key”.
 
Authored by: Frank Jacobs