Fleet LatAm Business Networking Group scores first international meeting
Fleet LatAm, the Latin American arm of Global Fleet, kicked off its Business Networking Group with the launch of its first quarterly meeting on Wednesday (27 May), a 90-minute discussion revolved around fleet and mobility topics amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Attended by more than 60 industry experts from various regions of the globe, the online meeting was led by Fleet LatAm advisory board chairman Pascal Serres with support from various advisory board members.
Pascal Serres at Fleet LatAm Conference 2019 in Mexico City (source: Fleet LatAm)
Following an introduction and an explanation of the day’s topics by Mr. Serres, Nexus Communication (publisher of Global Fleet, Fleet LatAm, and Fleet Europe) CEO Caroline Thonnon opened up talks with three key announcements.
Besides announcing Global Fleet Conference 2020, a five-week multifaceted virtual event scheduled to start on Tuesday (2 June), Ms. Thonnon communicated that a similar event is also being prepared for the end of September, being the 2020 Fleet LatAm conference.
The executive also announced the accomplishment of this year’s COVID-19 survey, a robust report put together by Nexus Communication and its partners on the current scenario in Latin America and other regions of the world which counted on the opinions of 600 industry experts from 38 countries.
Following was a presentation by Geotab associate VP Carlos Castillo who disclosed information compiled by the telematics company regarding road activity throughout Latin America and the world amidst the novel Coronavirus.
“According to recent data, we can see that commercial fleet activity was reduced significantly in Argentina, Peru and Ecuador, while countries like Brazil and Mexico were least affected,” said Mr. Castillo.
Mr. Serres followed with a presentation on the COVID-19 survey, comparing responses in Latin America with the rest of the world. “More than 60% of fleet managers in Latin America intend to stop ordering new vehicles in the short term and more than 70% are seeking contract extensions,” the executive said.
Moreover, 75% of them are seeking innovation first and foremost from fleet and mobility suppliers, he said, highlighting that these percentages are higher in Latin America than any other region in the survey.
Responses to what fleet managers are most looking for from suppliers (source: Nexus Communication)
Also at the meeting were Novartis sourcing manager Rodrigo Monroy, MSD fleet manager Kevin Kibilds and Jaime Bringas who is fleet manager at Philip Morris International and president of Mexico Fleet Managers Association (AMAFA).
They discussed issues such as managing drivers, fuel usage and strengthening relationships with vendors as well as the importance of mobility in addition to car usage.
“We need to focus more on technology and digital solutions, including those on mobile devices. Innovation is important but remember that protecting drivers must go along with it so controlling cell phone usage is a must,” Mr. Kibilds said.
Finally, in the face of the current crisis, the fleet managers discussed negotiating contracts with lower miles and longer periods and focusing more about whether or not they need vehicles today instead of the type of car needed.
Fleet LatAm advisory board members from leasing companies were also present, namely Manuel Tamayo who heads Element Fleet Management in Mexico as well as ALD Automotive Latam regional director Kent Bjertrup and Arval Latam business development director Ricardo de Bolle.
Besides discussing general strategies on operations, financing, and others, some of the topics mentioned included stiffer vehicle usage restrictions in Peru, doubts over spare parts availability in general, the low price of oil pushing the use of combustion engine vehicles, and the challenge of dealing with the weakening local currencies against the U.S. dollar.
For the most part, however, the companies have not been negatively impacted very much, according to the executives.
Last but not least, Charlotte Serres who heads safety compliance for Uber in Latin America gave participants an idea of how the company is dealing with the pandemic.
Besides providing new driver and rider features in its mobile app such as educational tips related to the health crisis, a mask verification tool, and a safety cancellation option, the company is reimbursing drivers for costs toward masks, hand sanitizers, and other cleaning products.
The executive wrapped up by highlighting the company’s plan to provide 10 million free rides and deliveries, a social program that benefits health professionals, blood donors and domestic violence victims stemming from the current situation.
As you can see, we are facing several challenges in the wake of COVID-19. However, with discussions like these, we will be able to work together on future plans for the fleet and mobility ecosystems in Latin America. Stay tuned for our next Business Networking Group meeting, to be announced shortly.