David Palmer Fernandez, ALD Automotive: “Despite un-mature, Colombia is promising”
With 47.2mn people and a fleet of some 13mn vehicles, Colombia is one of the more opportune markets in Latin America in terms of fleet management.
However, being the first international vehicle leasing and fleet management company in the country, ALD Automotive’s entry into Colombia last year did not come without challenges, according to country director David Palmer Fernandez.
Among them is dealing with poor infrastructure, Fernandez told Global Fleet, adding however that the company is planning to soon be one of the largest suppliers of corporate vehicles in the country.
As ALD Automotive just started operations in Colombia last year, could you tell me how the year went?
For us, 2017 was very challenging in Colombia as we were the first international player to arrive in the market. We were received with high expectations in both quality service and product innovation.
One of our main focuses has been to take the expectations and needs of our international clients and align them with the local market by introducing the best practices, services and expertise we have built up around the world.
Despite being an un-mature market, I do see Colombia as being very promising.
What are some of the services ALD provides in the country?
ALD Automotive provides full service leasing and fleet management throughout the entire country, and this includes large cities as well as remote towns where special services are requested.
We also provide door to door services in the main cites, to include supporting the management of fuel cards, traffic ticket claims, and telematics aimed at increasing driver security.
Having the world’s highest fatality rate from road accidents coupled with only 60% of drivers being insured is one challenge I see in Colombia. From a fleet manager’s point of view, what are some of the others?
First of all, you need to know that Colombia is a large country and its poor infrastructure creates difficulties sometime. As the nearest service garage could be hours away, it can be a challenge when it comes to carrying out maintenance, changing tires, and providing relief vehicles or overall insurance for fleets.
Other challenges have been dealing with the recent tax reforms, setting up IT systems adapted to local services, learning the practices of suppliers and partners, ensuring adequate coverage in collaboration with our official car manufacturers’ garages, and evaluating the vehicle portfolios currently in the market and the range of services they provide.
Basically, we have had to familiarize ourselves with the Colombian market and adapt our services accordingly.
What would you say was the company’s main accomplishment last year?
Well, I’d like to say that we are very proud of having some of the best professionals in the market. We have a very efficient, highly talented, and knowledgeable staff that puts customer satisfaction at the forefront. With that said, I believe that the processes of bringing this talent to the Colombian market was the main acheivement last year.
Last but not least, what is the company's goal for 2018 and beyond?
Besides providing the highest quality service to our customers, ALD Automotive has an ambitious plan to become one of the largest buyers of new corporate vehicles in the Colombian market. We are forecasting 50,000 purchases for 2018, of which 6,000 will probably be made by rental offices.
About the Company
In addition to Colombia, ALD Automotive Latin America is present in Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Peru. Considering its partership with Guatama-based Arrend leasing and Argetine based Autocorp, ALD leads the second largest automotive leasing alliance in Latin America. The company also has a global alliance with US-based Wheels Inc.
ALD Latin America 2017 (CREDIT: Nexus Communication)