Electric car, digitization, telematics are the trends of the moment (Frederic Banco, ALD Automotive)

Present for 11 years on the operational leasing market in Romania, ALD Automotive is one of the pioneers and main promoters of this product’s benefits on the local market. We talked to Frédéric Banco, who took over the management of ALD Automotive on September 1st, 2016, in order to continue the development of both the company’s commercial activities and its product and service portfolio.

Dear Sir, the operational leasing becomes increasingly known and used in Romania, with each year. What are the sectors for which you still observe a potential for operational leasing development?

frederic-banco-enThe operational leasing is indeed an industry that already has an established tradition, both here, in Romania, and internationally. The expansion process was supported in this regard by the companies in this domain, which invested effort and resources in providing the customers with consultancy and which permanently adapt their product and service portfolio in order to meet said customers’ customized requirements. On the other hand, an important contribution was that of the corporate customers, given that they were open and very willing to learn about the benefits provided by this type of service. In their case, we also include a “culture” regarding the fleet management, which was designed at local level by the companies’ global headquarters.

One thing is for sure: the operational leasing in Romania still has development potential, especially for the segment of SME customers. Last year we launched several programs addressed to the customers and, from what I noticed checking the results, the feedback we received was extremely positive. From this point of view, there is still the need of supported activities for promoting the advantages that the operational leasing can offer to the owners of said companies, who begin to perceive, at an increasing rate, this product as an investment instead of a cost. We plan new partnerships dedicated to this customer category, which represents diverse sectors and for which we employ different sales channels, in addition to the traditional ones.

Generally speaking, the Romanian market is following the trends that are already shown by other markets. What are the developments at international level which you expect the local customers to also follow?

The operational leasing market in Romania is undergoing constant development and consolidation in order to achieve its full potential, compared to other markets in the region or to Western European countries. At the same time, the openness towards the international trends has also been visible in the country for some time, as it is one of the factors that fuel the constant growth of this field.

One of the trends towards which we are heading refers to the electric and hybrid technologies. On the one hand, their adoption rate is enforced by the European Commission regulations, as the latter set some clear aims for the automotive industry development level, and, on the other hand, it is also supported by the expectations of the international companies that are present locally and that have dedicated programs for reducing their carbon footprints, in order to protect the environment.

Moreover, this is one of the ALD Automotive priorities, the environment protection, which involves, firstly, adopting hybrid and electric technologies regarding the car fleets and, secondly, implementing certain activities, such as defensive and eco driving, that contribute to reducing the costs for fuel and vehicle maintenance. We are one of the pioneers in promoting the “fleet greening” concept, namely the use of alternative transportation means, and, in this regard, we benefit from the consolidated expertise that ALD Automotive has at global level, thanks to the over 9,700 electric vehicles and the over 24,000 hybrids that it manages in Europe. The local customers move towards the eco trend with small, but decisive steps, and we are here to support them, so that they may enjoy the best experience, irrespective of the vehicle type of choice.

The digitization is also an international trend present in every field of activity and ALD Automotive has quickly adapted to it, in order to provide its customers with facilities and tools that help them improve the efficiency of their activities and operations related to fleet management. Hence, we have developed mobile applications and platforms by means of which our customers are able to monitor and manage the units under their management in real time.

Another development direction, that I would like to see become more popular here as well, is telematics, whose benefits are widely acknowledged in other European countries. Telematics has the potential to generate a range of favorable changes for all the actors involved in the automotive industry, drivers and car fleet managers, at the same time; an example would be the downsizing of costs and the improvement of customer relationships.

Besides all this, we are permanently updated with the latest international trends, such as services for individuals, the “car sharing” phenomenon, which was also launched on the domestic market, together with the development of more and more complex mobility solutions.

What is the level occupied by the operational leasing services for electric and hybrid vehicles within the ALD Automotive offer? How high is the rate you expect this service type to reach in Romania?

ALD Automotive is constantly organizing activities dedicated to the increase of the adoption rate for electric and hybrid vehicles, for its customers. The most recent one took place this year, in June, and it was conducted in partnership with the Titi Aur Academy; on this occasion the participants had the chance of testing the newest hybrid and electric vehicles. This year’s edition was the second one and the openness of our customers towards such dedicated actions enjoys a growing trend. We wish to contribute to improving our customers’ fleets, which means an improved drivers’ safety and reduced fuel consumption, hence a reduction of the CO2 emissions. To this end we promote the “rightsizing” concept, rather than “downsizing”, namely the selection of the vehicles of the same preferred class, but with lower CO2 emissions levels. Another initiative is represented by the defensive and eco driving classes for our customers, in partnership with the Titi Aur Academy.

Concerning the local figures, only 307 electric and hybrid vehicles were sold, in Romania, during the first half of the year, whereas, at European level, the sold units exceeded this number by 300%, i.e. 95,600. Given my international experience regarding this segment, I can definitely state that there is a need for the strong support of the authorities, namely the fiscal support in purchasing eco vehicles, as well as the development of infrastructure for power stations. In this regard, I believe that publishing the financing guide for the Development Program of the infrastructure for electric and hybrid vehicle power stations represents a first step and we hope to witness a series of positive changes regarding the eco trend adoption rate in the automotive sector. This will also be supported by the launch of the Rabla Plus program, by means of which the state is financing the purchase of electric and hybrid vehicles, with amounts between 5,000 RON and 20,000 RON, depending on the chosen model’s features.

The computing technologies and digitization are two elements that are increasingly present not only in the current activity of companies and managers, but in our day-to-day lives as well. How are these trends present in car fleet management?

One thing is for sure: we cannot ignore this trend and, ever more so, ALD Automotive already has an important experience in integrating information technologies in its business model, both internally and for the customers. There is little doubts that the digital component and its related facilities will hold a greater and greater weight in all of our future activities.

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The full version of this article can be read in printed edition of energynomics.ro Magazine, issued in September 2016.

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