The past, present and future in the automotive aftermarket
Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit us two years ago, it soon became clear that we had to make the safety of our clients and drivers (and of our employees and partners) our top number one priority. Our message at that time was to stay at home and only use your lease car when needed.
With the operations returning to normal, we see an increase in vehicle usage leading to more service events. With this and the uncertainty of the global chip shortage leading to supply chain disruptions, working in partnership with your leasing provider has never been more important in ensuring your fleet is mobile on the road.
The past - impact of Covid-19 of vehicle usage and service
Garages, tyre fitters and body repair shops had to close down in many countries. Vehicles were locked up in the garages and could not be picked-up. So we had to make sure that clients affected received a replacement car to ensure their mobility.
In the first three months of the Covid-19 the number of vehicle service events dropped by half. The number of damage repairs went down even more significantly. Seasonal tyre changes were delayed to avoid too many visitors at the tire change garages. New vehicle issues appeared like dried out wiper blades, battery failure, but also more complex issues like water entering engines coming from the fuel tank due to the vehicles standing still for a longer period.
Your leasing partner as first point of contact At LeasePlan we were in regular touch with our lease drivers and with our network of garages to keep track of which ones were operating and their availability. We were in the position to guide lease drivers to the right garage avoiding long waiting times. Together with our preferred partner network we made protocols on how to service vehicles in accordance to the new health regulations. Sanitation of the vehicles after servicing became the standard.
Once the Covid-19 restrictions were released gradually across countries, the vehicle service requests started to come in again. Because of the peak in requests we still had to manage the inflow of service requests carefully to minimize the disruption in the daily life of our clients. We supported drivers the best way possible, offering services like guaranteed slot availability and pick-up and delivery services.
The present: managing your fleet in the current automotive aftermarket
A few things became clear to me while managing our clients’ vehicle management and driver services during these uncertain times.
1. Partnership are crucial Managing in life vehicle events in a frictionless manner requires partnership. Partnership with your lease drivers who want to drive a vehicle which is safe, partnership with the garages executing the work to ensure your employees are serviced the best way possible, and partnership with my colleagues across the globe who did a tremendous job taking into account the challenges Covid-19 brought to us.
2. Nothing beats clear communication Next to partnership, communication is one of the key success factors. Openly communicating to all parties involved, keeping your employees driving a lease car updated in a regular fashion and telling them that LeasePlan is there to service: ‘You do the driving, we do the rest’. And we are happy to do so!
3. Keeping the vehicle in shape Our fleet aged over the last 2 years and the average vehicle age is now 27 months vs 25 months in 2019. Contracts are being extended at the request of our clients and at the same time, new vehicle deliveries are being delayed (due to product issues caused by e.g. semiconductor shortage) so existing vehicles drive longer. An older fleet increases the chance of technical issues and more complex repairs. And here we count on our lease drivers. We trust that they treat their vehicles with good care and give it some extra attention. Here are some tips on how your employees can keep their vehicle in shape.
4. Letting your leasing partner guide you We see that the car parts supply chain is being disrupted due to the semiconductor shortage and logistical challenges. It impacts repair times in the garages and the pricing of spare parts. And longer repair time means your vehicle can’t be used, which can affect your business. My advice: get in contact with your local LeasePlan team; they are more than happy to guide you to the right garage.
LeasePlan carefully monitors the supply chain and we will do our utmost best to select the garages with parts availability.
The future: electrification and connectivity trends in automotive
One thing for sure, the automotive industry will change and this change is actually accelerated by the pandemic. Fleet electrification is the biggest one in my view. It’s going so rapidly with new OEMs entering the industry, but also the traditional parties accelerating their electrification. This will impact the after sales market. Vehicles are less complex and require less service, but at the same time workshop technicians need to be trained as cars are becoming a driving software device. Because of technology, damage repairs will become more complex, but at the same time this technology (e.g. ADAS: Advanced driver-assistance systems) will also help in reducing the number of accidents. And we do see that electric vehicles consume more tyres. The EVs are significantly heavier than the traditional ICE vehicles and they have more torque, ultimately leading to rubber being consumed faster.
Another development that will go into second gear is the connected vehicle. It somehow goes hand in hand with the fleet electrification, although nowadays the fast majority of new ICE vehicles being produced are connected as well. Connectivity helps us to act more proactively in managing your fleet. It will keep you fleet in the best condition and we will be able to jointly manage the mobility of your fleet. For example, by avoiding vehicles going for maintenance during peak times in your business. Maximizing uptime, we call this. Obviously data privacy needs to be ensured while dealing with connected vehicle data. This is another topic that is high on the agenda of LeasePlan.
It's important to remember that the Covid-19 pandemic is not over yet so keep track of changes. At LeasePlan, we’ll keep you updated with changes and new trends coming in the automotive aftermarket area.