Corporate car-sharing requires change in attitude
Our company cars are a semi-private space as well as a status symbol. So why should we share them with others? There are many good reasons, which is why corporate car-sharing is taking off. But the formula requires a change in attitude.
What’s in a name? Car-sharing is one name for a number of very different solutions. It can be offered by a public agency, by a specialised private company or by an ad-hoc group as a P2P service. It can be station-based, free-floating or intra-corporate.
Whatever shape corporate car-sharing takes, if it involves switching employees out of their salary cars, it will be a tough task – and fleet managers should be prepared for that. They have to stand up and spell out: “I know this is new for you and you’re not happy about it, but in the end, it will benefit both the company and yourself”.
The market today basically offers two business models. The first is to use sharing technology to convert part of your existing fleet. A range of solutions is available – from very basic to very advanced. They consist of software, hardware and telecoms components. Some suppliers, Ubeeqo among them, offer all requirements in one package.
The second is to get on board with public car-sharing programmes run in large urban centres by recognised operators – for instance DriveNow or Car2go. Some of these operators allow customers to book special hourly slots, overnight vehicles or out-of-area travel, or even to rent out vehicles exclusively for corporate use. Much depends on the specific needs of the client company – and on its location.
Medium-sized to very large corporate fleets are where most car-sharing implementations are being carried out today. In these instances, car-sharing is often viewed initially as an improved form of pool car management, and its primary goal is to achieve efficiency gains via an automated intra-corporate reservations system and keyless vehicle access. Another trend: adjoining companies in industrial or business zones sharing vehicles in a multi-corporate car-sharing setup.
The key question here is: How many vehicles do I need to achieve an optimal balance between maximum availability and maximum usage? In other words: How to avoid gaps in availability? Because cars can be needed at a moment’s notice. This requires a lot more advance travel planning.
Ideally, a shared car can replace up to eight non-shared cars. The flipside: car-sharing involves a lot of additional processing and associated costs. In some cases, an extra front office employee has to be designated for the task, and the formula will also entail more HR and tax work for the back office. However, this should be offset against the cost of a classic – stationary – company car.
That cost can be measured: currently available software solutions can monitor a huge number of vehicle parameters. In fact, the continuous flow of data produced by car-sharing fleets can result in a self-optimisation process. One example is the growing trend of using electric vehicles for car-sharing – a result of the monitorability of the vehicles involved. A pioneer in this field was Flinkster car-sharing by Deutsche Bahn.
Both car manufacturers and rental and lease companies are increasingly interested in these solutions, and as a consequence, vehicles are being better prepared for sharing software from the factory stage onwards.
Fleet managers wanting to implement an intra-corporate car-sharing solution should proceed following these three steps.
Explain to the drivers why your company is opting for car-sharing. Reasons can include: the environment, to free up money for other transport needs, to make travel between different sites more efficient, or to limit fleet expansion (because of limited parking space, for example).
Set up an awareness campaign, introduce a single shared car as a demo, visit a company already using car-sharing: all means to generate a healthy interest in the formula. Consult with your fellow employees. Shared cars are just one of the many mobility modes offered by a company.
Consult with HR and Tax departments on how to involve user data in payroll calculation. Often, different fiscal rules apply to shared cars. Provide incentives to overcome employee aversion to the sharing formula. For example by also providing those who opt for car-sharing with a mobility budget or a company bike. Before enacting car-sharing, discuss the changes that need to be made to the car policy.
Communicate the practicalities of car-sharing, and practise them with the future users – for each of the steps of the car-sharing process:
- Before: How to sign in, make a reservation, check for delays.
- At the start: inspect for damage, lost items, cleanliness. Check fuel gauge, tire pressure and presence of fuel card and other required documents. Start vehicle and inpute required data. Make sure there is enough time to refuel if required.
- Returning the vehicle: Remove personal items and close according to the correct procedure. Report damage, if relevant. Make sure vehicle is parked in fine- or fee-free zone.
Special issues: Some vehicle types require some getting used to, which could affect road safety. Pairing smartphones to shared cars could be a problem. And delays should be communicated, so the next user is aware of them.
To be convinced
Corporate car-sharing is a solution that can be tailor-made to fit the needs of any company or group of companies. In future, technological advances will further automate its processes.
Nevertheless, corporate car-sharing is not a substitute for the classic company car, if only because of the different expectations regarding cleanliness of the vehicle – and the fact that you cannot leave your personal items in the car. This requires a serious change of attitude of the drivers involved in the change.
Younger employees are open to the idea of car-sharing, especially if linked to the right incentives. But – as shown by a recent market survey by CSA for Arval – it is the fleet managers themselves that need to be convinced...
By Michel Willems, Managing Director, Mobilitas