The future of fleet management – Norbert van den Eijnden and Ed Frederiks
Alphabet International's acquisition of ING Car Lease placed it among the top five fleet management companies in Europe. Joint CEOs Norbert van den Eijnden and Ed Frederiks talk to FDE about the merger and the company's forward-thinking strategy.
How will the acquisition of ING Car Lease provide value to clients?
Norbert van den Eijnden: Let me first point out that the two companies complement each other very well. Geographically, we now have a far stronger presence in multiple regions, and this means even more comprehensive service for our international customers. Secondly, the expertise and the portfolios of two companies are being combined and optimised, resulting in a wider range of solutions for those customers.
Ed Frederiks: I would like to give you a simple example. Different customers need different services, different kinds of vehicles and different solutions to guarantee the mobility of their employees. The acquisition enhanced our mobility strategy so that we can now respond to those needs even better. The other advantage for the customer is our strengthened competitiveness due to economies of scale.
What challenges arise from a car fleet management perspective when clients go through their own cross-border acquisitions, and how has Alphabet helped in this scenario?
Norbert van den Eijnden: In a word, complexity. You suddenly have different vehicles, requirements, regulations, needs and prices. You have to strike a balance between regional needs and the uniformity of procedures across the fleet. In 2000, we instituted regular meetings to exchange ideas and discuss strategy with our then new client, a global logistics company. When it acquired another international firm, we had to proactively harmonise fleet policy. But we also conducted a driver survey to find out what the actual users needed in terms of service, training and so on. That kind of commitment is why we are successful.
With fuel prices continuing to rise, how can fleet management companies help to keep costs down?
Ed Frederiks: Fleet management is crucial to reducing costs. We can, for example, optimise routes or even the types of vehicles used. We can even optimise drivers' fuel efficiency by optimising their driving style and offering special training. We will provide innovative, technology-driven options to our customers; for example, telematics.
Norbert van den Eijnden: I would like to mention the option of electric mobility, which is also on our agenda. But perhaps more importantly, a company like Alphabet is best able to control total cost of ownership for the customer and that encompasses more than just fuel. We can factor in everything from insurance costs and taxes in different countries, to vehicle depreciation and the price of changing tyres. In fact, we offer various levels of service contracts, giving the customer many attractive options.
To what extent is fleet management becoming 'mobility management' and how is Alphabet evolving with this trend?
Ed Frederiks: The change is becoming very real. Corporate or even private mobility is no longer restricted to the automobile thanks to the technological changes of the past decades, which have accelerated significantly in recent years. Means of transport are becoming more and more combined and individuals are using multimodal mobility for their displacements. Nevertheless, the modern car of today and the future will offer even more flexible and environmentally friendly ways of transportation. This is why we should take the lead to provide our customers with the best economic solutions in the world of multimodal mobility.
Norbert van den Eijnden: Fleets will always be with us, but at Alphabet we have realised that the attitude towards the car is changing. We have already developed a Corporate CarSharing solution called AlphaCity that allows employees to pick up a company car quite spontaneously. Mobility is flexibility, and we want to make sure our customers can move about freely and efficiently. So, I would say Alphabet is in the front seat of the trend.