1 Aug 17

Ten Anecdotes on what can go wrong at the other side of the ocean

International fleet management is becoming more and more global, with Europe and the United States as two of the most mature fleet management markets. Despite their maturity it is not recommended to install a copy-paste approach from one continent to the other. Discover ten anecdotes of fleet management challenges from fleet managers when having entered the other car fleet market.


American fleet managers in Europe


  • “My objective was to reduce costs within our company by creating synergies and pursuing internationalisation. So I resolved to implement the same two OEMs from our U.S. market across our European markets. Very quickly, it was made clear to me how profoundly cultural preferences and brand images shape OEM selection in Europe – and shape it differently across various markets”.
  • “When I first arrived in Europe, I was surprised to learn that such a large part of our company fleet was made up of benefit cars. I aimed to bring this into line with our American practice by proposing to abolish the benefit car, translating it to a salary raise. I can tell you, that was not my brightest idea!”
  • “Telematics is a fairly non-controversial topic in the U.S. but in Europe – depending on the market – this can be a tough sell, especially where trade unions and HR departments call into question the necessity or the benefits of telematics, offset against concerns for privacy”.
  • “North American priorities and practices are not global priorities and practices. Any system you don't understand is a bad system. And if you put a good person in a bad system, the system wins every time”.
  • “You ignore Europe's diversity and egalitarianism at your peril. Even small players are players. All markets need to be heard, not just the big ones. Making sure communication is provided in the appropriate language is important. Overcommunicate to make sure everyone hears your message”.


European fleet managers in the U.S.


  • “If Europe is a mishmash of countries, preferences and regulations, then the U.S. must be one giant, uniform market. Well, like most generalisations, upon closer inspection this turns out to be wrong. In such a vast country, road and weather conditions differ dramatically. The state of infrastructure also varies widely. And taxation can differ from state to state. So get a clear picture of the situation in the U.S. before you try to impose Europrean best practices”.
  • “CO2 is such an important element and driver of car policies in Europe, more precisely as an element in cost reduction, that it can feel like an uphill struggle for a European fleet manager to explain this to his or her U.S. colleagues”.
  • “The closed-end leasing principle in Europe is completely different from the open-end one in the U.S. That doesn't mean one is better than the other. Each makes perfect sense in its own context. That's why one should be very aware of trying to improve things by copying elements of one system into another. In virtually all cases, that is a mistake”.
  • “Due to best practices, and the way fleet management is dealt with, fleet management in the U.S. has the tendency to be more operational than what we do in Europe (where the operational part is outsourced via leasing or fleet management). Residual value evaluation, maintenance, tyre deals, driver contact is embedded in the philosophy and practice of the American fleet manager. Be aware of this and don’t assume your fleet partners and suppliers will take this all for granted”.
  • “Even when your fleet management and OEM partners are the same in the US as they are in Europe, get to know the people over there and don’t assume that your contacts in Europe can easily make it also all work in the US. Respect the contact and relationship between your US fleet peer and the U.S. fleet suppliers. Don’t take this link away and trying to do it from Europe with Europeans”.