8 Sep 16

Joe Carreira, MSD: South Africa is different

There are issues in some markets which require local knowledge – of cultures, of history, of the reality on the ground. Pharmaceutical giant Merck Sharp & Dohme has done its homework on South Africa, as former International Fleet Manager of the Year Joe Carreira, in charge of fleet for EMEA, tells us.
Companies take all sorts of parameters into account when designing their fleet and car policies for different countries. Merck Sharp and Dohme has done this for South Africa, where two factors are not necessarily top of the agenda in other countries. The first is the roads: ‘Normally cars with a higher ground clearance are more popular due to the poor state of the road network outside the big cities’. And alongside this is the fact that car-jacking is prevalent in South Africa and employee safety is the priority. The recovery of the car is facilitated by the telematics unit in the car.
Joe Carreira confirms that where this latter point is concerned, all MSD cars come with telematics on board to facilitate vehicle recovery if the car is stolen. To complete the ‘safety’ picture, MSD is implementing a new company wide approach this year to improve the standards of driver behaviour.
Choice of supplier
This is an element which also includes a factor not often seen elsewhere. An initiative by the South African government to address historical imbalances, the BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) or Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) as it is technically known, rates suppliers according to a number of criteria including who owns the company and who works there. As Joe Carreira confirms, South Africaplaces a lot of emphasis on supplier choice and the selection of suitable supplier is of critical business importance.
This notion of choice extends further, even to whether a car is supplied or not. Allowances are very prevalent in the country and the supply of company vehicles is in the minority approach. Consequently, company supplied vehicles are a small fraction of the vehicles used for company business needs. The main reasons for this are cultural, economic and tax related.
The South African fleet market is one of those markets which has traditionally favoured purchase, but like others, as it develops it is moving towards the leasing model. This is true for MSD, which is moving from car ownership to leasing with a full fleet management approach. MSD expects all company supplied cars to be leased within a two year period.
And whereas some companies use South Africa as a base for the fleet management process in neighbouring markets, Merck Sharp & Dohme operates a strictly ‘country by country’ approach.

Authored by: Céline Gilson