7 Nov 18

John Saffrett: “ALD targets 150,000 private lease contracts in 2019”

Leasing and business mobility company ALD Automotive is having an excellent 2018, says John Saffrett, Chief Operating Officer of the Société Générale daughter. “We have excellent geographic coverage, we’re competitive on pricing and we have a high level of service – a combination that is increasingly compelling for large multinationals and has helped to strengthen our positon as the European leader.” But ALD Automotive is not blind to private leasing either.

“The key challenge is having the right product and the right digital capability to deliver private lease efficiently and effectively,” John Saffrett says. “And we’ve achieved that, so it’s been a good year in that respect too.”

Most of your business is B2B, yet private lease and used-car lease are B2C-oriented. Do you ever see both channels becoming equally important for you?
“Our core corporate business retains a significant growth potential in the years to come, so we’re not in any rush to switch our main focus to private lease. But private lease volumes are growing year on year and bring us a new type of client. Our ambition for 2019 is 150,000 vehicles via private lease, and we’re confident that we’ll hit that target with the new channels we’re bringing online now. After that – who knows?”

How do you see leasing and fleet management evolve in 2019?
“There’s still significant potential for growth, even in mature markets in Western Europe. In some markets, regulations are driving people away from company cars – but they’re moving into private lease. So lease companies must make sure they have the product to catch those people including more structured schemes for companies to manage this trend where appropriate.”

“There will be a growing focus on digital to increase the efficiency of our services and the engagement with our clients. Traditionally, lease companies touch drivers 10-15 times during the life of a contract. Creating more touch points will create more opportunities to give drivers a great customer experience.”  

Where do you see mobility going next? 
“There is no universal definition of mobility, so it’s very important to define what you want to offer. At ALD Automotive, we’ve identified five capabilities – all progressing at different speeds.”

“Firstly, expertise in digital and connected mobility is absolutely mandatory. We’ve invested significantly in this area over the last few years and we recently announced a number of partnerships with companies such as Microsoft and Vinli to help us build more muscle here. Secondly, we need to offer travel and payment capabilities to our clients. A third capability is flexibility, which we are now building into our products. Fourth is about developing mobility products to support electrification and products such as ALD Switch where you can take a contract on an electric vehicle but with a number of days of traditional ICE capability to meet those occasional long range journeys is key to helping our clients learn about the usage and appropriateness of EV for their fleets. And finally, we’ve identified a number of areas where Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) applies and hence our partnership with MaaS Global to learn more and work alongside one of the leaders in this space.”

“The most relevant evolutions today are digital and connected mobility – creating a great digital experience for end users and using connected data to create value for clients. But with the increase in new product, electrification will really accelerate next year, and we see increasing interest in corporate and EV based car-sharing as one of the first MaaS applications.”

Which innovative solutions are you working on now?
“This year, we’ve focused on some core capacities. On our digital capability, for instance: we’ve developed a fully digital private lease platform in the UK including credit check and e-signature capabilities and we’re now deploying that in more and more countries.  You will have seen our recent launch of the platform with Boursorama in France where this platform is helping to accelerate our capabilities in this area.  We’re also developing products based on the connected car platform. The first step is mastering data acquisition. The second step is looking for patterns in the data and offering value to your clients based on that data. For example, by offering a much more pro-active service to drivers for maintenance, or when looking for parking spaces and the partnership with Vinli, who are a world leader in this space will definitely accelerate our development here.”

But you’re not quite there yet?
“We are getting there but there is so much more to do.  But via our strategic alliance with Microsoft, we’re developing a true interactive mobility product in the Netherlands that will be a significant step in the right direction. It’s due to be launched soon.”

ALD Automotive has been in Turkey for many years. How are the economic troubles there affecting your business?
“We decided about a year ago only to write contracts on terms that we were comfortable with. As that volatility has increased, we see most international providers have followed our example. We’re now seeing some partners and international key accounts coming back to work with us.” 

“This shows the validity of our model, in which vehicle leasing is backed by a financial institution. That means we are better positioned to ride out economic volatility. It also shows our commitment to entering markets to support our customers in both good times and bad.”

The complete interview with John Saffrett with his vision on the emergence of mobility, the convergence of B2B and B2C markets and his view on Turkey, LatAm and the US market is published in the latest magazine of Fleet Europe. Subscribe here

Authored by: Steven Schoefs