22 nov 23

CARA General Meeting focuses on battery health and sustainability

“I’m very proud to see so many people here today, and of what we achieved in 2023”, said Wolfgang Reinhold, president of the European Car Remarketing Association (CARA) at the start of this year’s General Meeting, Tuesday in Lisbon, where he announced his intention to step down. Key focus points of the meeting: CARA’s initiatives in terms of EV battery health, and sustainability in remarketing.

CARA will vote in a new board next year. Mr Reinhold (pictured), who has been its president since its founding nine years ago, will stand for re-election, but said he would stand down after two years. “I’ll be 68, that’s old enough”, he said. The association he founded has grown into a mature and relevant actor, as proved by the growing membership – three new ones presented themselves at the meeting: Privacy4Cars, Geotab, and Hertz, and more followed a day later at the Fleet Europe Remarketing Forum, on the first of the two Fleet Europe Days.  

Premium version

One proud achievement in 2023 was the granting of Certification Marks for the CARA-approved Battery Health Check to two service providers, Aviloo and Moba. “That solution is working well”, said Roland Gagel, who heads CARA’s working group on battery health. Building on that momentum, CARA is exploring the possibility of developing, next to a Basic solution for certifying EV battery health, a Premium version as well. 

“The Basic test simply consists of a reading of the battery. A Premium test should include a battery stress test as well, whether by charging, discharging, or driving. Of course, such a test will be longer and more expensive, and will probably only be used for a fraction of all used EVs”, for example in cases where the Basic test delivers an anomalous result. 

Does the market want such a test? And should CARA provide it? An animated discussion ensued. There seems to be little appetite to pay for it. “When we tell customers about the (Basic) test, they are interested. But when they see the effort and cost involved, they retract”, said Bertrand Donck (Macadam). 

However, by push or pull, the market will be ready at some point. Battery health is a crucial selling point for EVs, which will only grow in number. There are many providers out there that claim they can establish battery health, but not all are reliable.

“The question is: do we spend time and money now on this issue or do we wait until the market is ready? I’m all for the first option. It’s good to be ahead of the market”, said Mr Gagel. One way forward would be to talk to other companies – including OEMs – who are developing these tests, and get a feel of what the market wants and needs. To be continued. 

Important ruling

There were plenty of other deliverables discussed at the meeting, including CARA’s work in in-car data. CARA has developed a standpoint paper, which it shared with policy makers and other associations. Essentially, CARA argues for a nuanced approach, that guarantees that third parties can access to certain types of in-car data, if it there is a justified need. This goes against the OEM standpoint that they own all such data.  

“On 5 October, the European Court of Justice ruled in favour of car repair companies, saying that their right to access in-car data trumps the argument for data security put forward by the OEMs”, said Mr Gagel. “It cannot be overstated how important this ruling is.”

“Just a few weeks ago, we signed an agreement with EuroFleet, who will market and manage the CARA Academy,” said Johan Verbois. CARA Academy, another deliverable, is designed to offer training in specific areas of remarketing to relevant staff from OEMs, national sales companies, leasing companies, and more. “EuroFleet have 25 years experience, and all the tools to make this a success. A series of four half-day sessions will be launched in the first quarter of 2024.”

After a coffee break, Julian de Groot (Dataforce) gave some background to the Market View reports on RVs in Europe which CARA members receive twice annually. “There actually isn’t such a thing as an average RV. This varies per company, which each have their own definition of Residual Values, and across the various markets.” 

Among the valuable data points in the report: EVs now comprise 15% of the new vehicle market in Europe, and 8% of the used vehicle market. 

Sustainability Award

Sustainability is a brand-new deliverable, and an important one. “As a quick win, we’ve launched a preliminary survey of our members to collect some of the initiatives on sustainability that they’ve already implemented”, said Luis Maria Perez-Serrano – who was also elected as a new board member at the meeting. “What’s positive, is that we see a great willingness to engage with the topic.”

In a way, this makes sense. As came up in the discussion, remarketing by its very nature is recycling: getting used cars back into the market. That can certainly be a foundation for promoting the sustainable aspects of remarketing, but “let’s make sure that what we do doesn’t amount to greenwashing.”

In any case, CARA will not dictate to its members what a sustainable policy should look like. Each company already has its own strategies and policies in this area, suited to its own capabilities and goals. One final suggestion to highlight the topic: “Perhaps we should plead for a Sustainability Award at the Fleet Europe Remarketing Awards.”

Images: Benjamin Brolet/Fleet Europe

Authored by: Frank Jacobs