One in a million: quality telematics data - Mike Masterson

With company responsibility for staff-driven vehicles on the rise, quality telematics data is growing increasingly important. Mike Masterson, CEO of ALD Automotive, discusses the latest risk-management strategies and how his firm breached the one-million-vehicles milestone.

One million vehicles is quite a figure, how did you reach it?

Mike Masterson: The key element for us has really been geography. As a full-service vehicle-leasing solution provider for corporates, we have the largest international coverage in the world, spanning 37 countries. We're particularly well positioned in the BRIC nations, which has given us some extra strength. We've also grown at an average rate of around 7% for the past 12 years, which is by far the best in the market.

What's your take on telematics?

There's certainly a lot of potential in telematics. Corporates increasingly have to take responsibility for staff vehicles and behaviour, and these products are often seen as good way of managing the risks. There are possibilities for using them for insurance purposes and vehicle tracking, as well as for maintenance and safety management.

From our perspective, there are really two types of telematics devices: independents and factory-fitted products provided by the car manufacturer. We are currently working on our own device, because many manufacturers have been slow to install them. It also means we can offer all customers the same service, whatever car they choose from us. We've been working with telematics for about eight years now and have more than 50,000 units equipped with these devices.

What sort of data can telematics provide?

A vast amount of data is available, but the customer needs to be able to access it. We're working hard on the reporting side, providing information about accidents, repair and maintenance as well as aspects of the driver's behaviour.

There are also sometimes legal restrictions on how telematics can be used. For example, does a corporate have the right to access certain data sets?

How do you see sustainability issues impacting the sector?

In the big cities that our large corporate clients want to operate in, there are often pollution restrictions. There are also a number of financial incentives that support sustainability, such as subsidies for electrical vehicles. Most big corporate entities have sustainability programmes and are looking to reduce their CO2 emissions. We have 14,000 electric and hybrid vehicles, making us the world leader in this field.

What solutions do you offer to help customers in this area?

Our ALD Blue Fleet programme offers specialised environmental analysis and consultancy services for our customers, helping them to reduce emissions. We also set up fuel races within companies focusing on improving consumption, along with individual challenges designed to enhance general driving habits. A mobile app containing driving tips is also available.

The other key initiative is ALD New Mobility. This is a whole range of products aimed at flexibility and corporate mobility solutions. An employee might have, for example, a train subscription during the week and a car they use at the weekend.

Beyond geographical coverage, what separates you from the competition?

A key point is that lot of our competitors don't really believe in fleet management. This is when a customer owns the car, but we provide the services: maintenance, fuel card, telematics and so on. About 250,000 of our cars - 75% of the fleet - are managed on this basis. We're the industry leader by some distance in this area.

We're also the world leader in partnerships; we have around 100 in different countries with either a manufacturer or a bank, or both. It puts us in a very strong position.

Where will you be expanding in the coming years?

A lot of our customers are in South America, so we're planning to develop our presence in a number of countries there. We also see some big opportunities in Africa and Asia.

In ten years' time, I think our portfolio will have radically shifted away from Western Europe and towards emerging countries, particularly the BRIC nations, and places like Mexico and Turkey. There is huge potential demand.

Along with customer presence, market maturity is a key consideration. There's no point being there ten years before a network of suppliers who can support a quality product is in place, so we're closely monitoring the situation. We're determined to remain the most dynamic in the field when it comes to geographical expansion.