2 Dec 21

How to solve the global fleet management paradox

Think global, act local: in a nutshell, that’s the job description of any global fleet manager. On its own, the slogan is an unworkable paradox. You need more instructions. Fortunately, three of the industry’s best and brightest were on hand at the Global Fleet Conference to provide just that. 

The Global Fleet Conference, which took place virtually on Thursday 2 December, closed with a panel discussion, moderated by Global Fleet editor in chief Steven Schoefs. Participating were:

  • Tania Mijas (TM), Senior Regional Category Lead Travel, Congresses, Meetings, Events & Fleet for the Americas (Genentech – Hoffmann La Roche);
  • Ng Yit Ming (YM), Regional Procurement Manager Car Fleet Zone Asia Oceania Africa (Nestlé); and
  • Andy Leeden (AL), Global Director Fleet & Mobility (AstraZeneca).

Between them, the trio share several coveted awards, a lot of expertise and many years of experience. So, what’s their take on how global fleet managers should design a global fleet strategy? Here are some excerpts from the discussion.

Regional challenges

YM: “The supply landscape in Asia-Pacific (APAC, Ed.) is very fragmented. There aren’t many global players present, and the local players often don’t adhere to global best practices. When you design your global strategy, try to take those best practices to all markets – but be flexible, and adapt to the specific needs of each market.”

TM: “I’m responsible for both North America and Latin America (LatAm, Ed.), and those are very different. LatAm is a lot like APAC, with many countries with various standards and levels of maturity, where it’s hard to consolidate suppliers and have one over-arching strategy. It’s not impossible, but it’s very hard.”

AL: “You have to align your strategy to wider corporate targets. If not, you’re not going to be on the same page with important stakeholders, and that will hurt your own objectives. But I agree with the other two speakers. You have to be mindful of the regional and country-level realities. Allow them to see how they can bring value and make your overall targets work for them.”

Stakeholder management

TM: “You need a global framework, but then you need to communicate with local fleet managers and other regional stakeholders. They have to see what works for them. If they are on board, everything can align very well, and you may have success.”

YM: “You can’t have a one-size-fits-all approach. What works in Europe may not work in Asia, or in Africa for that matter. Also, something I’ve had to learn myself: if you don’t involve stakeholders right from the beginning, you’re going to get a lot of pushback.”

(Non-)coverage by suppliers

AL: “At one level, it’s frustrating that you can’t just have one supplier for all your markets. But it’s a big ask of a supplier to be everywhere, and even more to be good  everywhere. I don’t mind having multiple suppliers in a region if that means I can have the best in each country. But what I also don’t want, is a completely fragmented marketplace.”

Supplier consolidation

YM: “We’ve seen it happen with OEMs over the past few years, and we’ve all read the recent news of something similar under way among lease companies. Honestly, it’s a double-edged sword. Consolidation means larger companies with a stronger offer. But it also means reduced competition. We notice in markets without much competition, suppliers get complacent.”

TM: “I think consolidation can be a good opportunity for suppliers to offer us more innovation, especially in terms of the shift to electrification.”

Global vs. sustainable

AL: “At AstraZeneca, our carbon reduction targets are global, so our carbon reduction policies are global too. But you have to do this at different speeds, and be realistic about how fast various markets can go. If you mandate EVs tomorrow everywhere, that’s just not realistic, and it won’t get done. Instead, build a road map with your local teams – that gives you a better chance of actually getting there.”

YM: “Nestlé Group targets net-zero by 2050 – but for the Nestlé fleet, the target is the end of next year. The majority worldwide will be green, the remaining emissions will be offset. Because my markets are such a mixed bag in terms of maturity, we’ve chosen a phased approach: BEVs immediately where possible, then PHEVs where possible, then hybrids where possible. In markets where none of these options is possible, we go for cars with the lowest possible emission levels.”

Chip shortage

TM: “We’re ordering a lot of hybrids and electrics for our fleets in the Americas, and clearly it will take more time than it would have before. But we’re still sticking to our target: -50% CO2 reduction by 2030. We’re even pushing to achieve this by 2028, chip shortage or not.”

AL: “For once, scale doesn’t give us an advantage, because the shortage affects everyone. You just have to plan better, meaning: longer ahead. One plus: many fleets were underutilised during the pandemic, which gives us extra room to extend contracts. And another glimmer of light: I hear that if you’ve pursued a green policy, you’re in luck. If you’ve ordered EVs, the availability will be better than for ICEs.” 

Interested to see the full panel discussion? You can watch it here! 

Image: Global Fleet

Authored by: Frank Jacobs