UK Leasing

Arval Mobility Observatory 2021 fleet barometer: fleets are more confident than before the pandemic

The fleets are After confident in the future than before the pandemic. “They increasingly meet the mobility needs of all employees,” explains Yaël Bennathan (shown on top), Head of the Arval Mobility Observatory in an exclusive interview with Fleet Europe. And this is just one of the many remarkable discoveries of its Mobility and Fleet Barometer 2021, published today.

In its 17 years of existence, the Barometer has become a widely recognized annual benchmark for the current state as well as for the future direction of the fleet and mobility industry. Last year’s edition, for example, confirmed the integration of telematics and predicted the electrification boom we are witnessing today.

But the 2020 barometer was based on surveys conducted at the start of the year, just before Covid-19 hit. For the 2021 edition, 5,200 fleet managers were surveyed in 20 countries, all in recent months, while everyone was already familiar with the effects of the pandemic.

In other words, the Mobility and Fleet Barometer 2021 is a unique window on the effect of the corona crisis on industry around the world. “Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that the crisis accelerated certain pre-existing trends, in particular with regard to the introduction of mobility alternatives and the energy transition, ”explains Ms. Bennathan.

See the five main findings of the Arval Mobility Observatory Barometer below – see the full study via the link at the end.

1. Businesses are more optimistic about the future than before the pandemic

  • 45% of fleet managers anticipate an increase in the size of their fleet over the next three years, compared to just 31% last year.
  • Main reasons: business growth (61%), employee safety in the context of Covid-19 (29%), talent recruitment and retention (26%).
  • Enthusiasm is particularly strong in larger companies (59%), and more moderate in smaller ones (31%).
  • The most optimistic countries are Brazil, Turkey, the Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland.
  • Only 8% expect their fleet to shrink.

“Although to varying degrees we noticed this optimism in companies of all sizes and in virtually all countries – Russia was the only exception. Optimism may seem counterintuitive, but there are some good explanations, ”says Bennathan.

“First, government support helped businesses weather the worst of the crisis. Second: companies clearly want to offer employees safe mobility options other than public transport. And three: the fleets have gone through a paradigm shift. They are now increasingly willing and able to meet the mobility needs of all employees, not just those who are entitled to a company car.

Hence, for example, the rise of alternative mobility solutions, which are generally offered above, and not instead of the company car option. But more on that in a minute.

2. Electrification is accelerating – and has gone global

  • 39% of the companies surveyed have already implemented at least one of these types of vehicles: pure hybrids, rechargeable hybrids, electric batteries.
  • Include the intention to implement in the next three years, and the figure rises to 70%.
  • The main countries are France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Finland, where at least 50% already use at least one of these types of vehicles. Include the intention, and it’s almost 80%.
  • The worst students in the electrification class: Russia, Turkey, the Czech Republic and, surprisingly, Luxembourg.
  • The number of those who have implemented or intend to implement hybrids has grown from around 40% in 2020 to around 60% this year. For pure electricity, the increase is 38% to 53%.

“The pace of electrification is accelerating, and it’s a trend we’re seeing everywhere. So it’s really a global phenomenon now – not just in mature markets. In Poland, for example, the implementation of battery electric vehicles has increased from 3% in 2020 to 18% this year, ”says Bennathan.

It is a process driven by a variety of factors. Corporate social responsibility, of course. But also: “There are simply more and more models available, and their range is expanding. Additionally, the total cost of ownership of electric vehicles is approaching – and in some cases has already exceeded – that of fossil fuel vehicles. “

As the Barometer shows, companies feel that barriers to electrification are collapsing, both in terms of price and infrastructure. “The infrastructure is increasing. There are now 250,000 public charging points in the EU, UK and Turkey combined. Even if it must be said that more than 75% are still concentrated in four countries – the Netherlands, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. ”

On the one hand, public charging infrastructure will struggle to keep up with the boom in electric vehicles. On the other hand, as Bennathan points out, “90% of EV charging is done at home or in the office right now. But that number could change in the future, so the focus needs to be on the right kind of chargers in the right places. “

3. Alternative mobility is booming (but some solutions more than others)

  • No less than 71% of companies have already implemented alternative mobility solutions for their employees.
  • Leading countries: the Netherlands, Switzerland and Brazil.
  • Two solutions in particular have made great progress: mobility budgets (29% against 14% in 2020) and company carsharing (28% against 19% in 2020).
  • In terms of three-year intentions, the most popular options are shared or rented bikes (44%), reservation apps (52%) and mobility budgets (58%).

“All mobility alternatives are multiplying, but those which progress the fastest are the most flexible, meeting a clear need of employees. Flexibility is therefore the big winner here. “

A remarkable development, says Bennathan: “The growth of cycling in Europe. Indeed, bicycle sales in the EU have increased by 23%. If we focus on electric bicycles, in France their number increased by more than 500,000 last year. In Germany, it was over 2 million. “

Of course, the pandemic has pushed some buttons. Public transport was shunned, in favor of these options which offered the best health security. “Company carsharing is a good example. It is perfectly possible to implement sanitary protocols between uses. “

Another major factor is that rental companies and other providers are now offering a mature product, bringing together the variety of mobility alternatives that exist in an attractive way for mobility customers.

4. Even in mature markets, operational leasing continues to grow

  • In 2020, 39% of companies said they would develop operational leasing in the next three years. In 2021, that figure has risen to 61%, with 23% saying they certainly will.
  • The increase is widespread across all sizes of businesses, from small (41% vs. 31% last year), to businesses with up to 100 employees (62% vs. 34% in 2020) to large (74% against 42%) and very large companies (79% against 52%).

“This shows that even in relatively mature fleet markets, there is still a lot of margin for operational leasing. Interestingly, even the smallest businesses are increasingly adopting operational leasing. “

And why the acceleration? “This is typical of times of crisis,” says Bennathan. “Businesses are looking for ways to save on capital costs and find they can use leasing to control costs and redirect their investments to their core business.”

5. Connected vehicles are more and more common… even in Germany

  • 58% of companies have connected vehicles in their fleet.
  • In terms of the level of connectivity, there is no significant difference between cars and light commercial vehicles.
  • Connectivity increases with the size of the company: 31% of the smallest companies and 82% of the largest have connected vehicles.
  • The main reasons to connect are the location and safety of the vehicle (50%), operational efficiency (42%), avoiding unauthorized use (41%), driver safety (41%) and reduction costs (40%).

“An important aspect in all of this is corporate social responsibility, as efficiency through connectivity also helps reduce CO2 emissions. Of course, safety and security are also important from a CSR perspective, ”says Bennathan.

The cultural context is important, as some countries are more possessive of privacy and less inclined to introduce connected technologies – Germany is a famous example but not the only one. However, the benefits of connected technology are slowly smoothing out the resistances.

“If we look at the levels of implementation, the average in the EU is 56% while in Germany it is 49%. The gap is narrowing and the German fleets are only slightly behind the European average. “

Click here to read the Arval Mobility Observatory 2021 Fleet Barometer in full.

“Even in relatively mature fleet markets, there is still a lot of room for growth for operational leasing,” says Yaël Bennathan, head of the Arval Mobility Observatory.
Image: Arval Mobility Observatory

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