18 Sep 17

Baby steps in the right direction

This week is European Mobility Week. We too want to focus on mobility, and on its promising future. That future is not just about flying cars, robots and other utopian images. While it's certain that a couple of really great, really big changes are coming our way, it's also pretty obvious that most innovations will be adopted gradually, and easily.

Most changes will create comfort and solve problems - important ones like traffic jams, or more mundane ones, like deciding who takes the daughter to ballet class.

Train pass

But even if change will come gradually, and easily - actively preparing is preferable over passively waiting for those changes to occur. Especially for corporations. So, should they cancel all new company car orders and give their employees a train pass? Obviously not - that is a few steps too far. But here's what would be a good start: break the automatic link between company car and company driver.

Because here's the thing: for today's decisions it is completely irrelevant whether the cars of tomorrow will be driving by themselves or even flying through the air. Today, we need to focus on transition to the next phase, not on the unpleasantness and the disruption that a fast-forward jump would cause.  Our main objective should remain to keep our internal client happy, and to introduce them to the future.

Interchangeable property

So let's drop the bomb. New mobility solutions will no longer support a concept that corresponds to 'my car'. The core of future transportation will be the sharing concept. Cars, therefore, will be shared, either within family groups, community members or even with complete strangers.

Yes, there will still be variations; luxury will be defined as a specific type of shared vehicle - shared with fewer people than other vehicles. This also applies to the corporate sphere: we need to stop thinking of a company car as an extension of our personal selves, and start treating it as interchangeable property.

Massive change

Sharing technology's other major impact will be on public transport, which will undergo massive change. Today, people still wait patiently for the 07:24 bus to work, but that concept is already obsolete and irrational right now. Public transportation companies are focusing on short-term profitability by 'optimising' routes and time-scheduling. Basically, they are forcing users to adapt their time schedules to those of the supplier - and they are increasingly restrictive.

Can you imagine these underperforming, underdelivering organisations surviving in an environment dominated by shared mobility, with short-distance transfers especially becoming easier, faster and more efficient than a bus? This coming disruption in public transport is a factor that we, fleet managers and other fleet industry decision makers, must take into account.

Newer, better solutions

But ultimately, it's the corporate mobility community that will have to assume the leadership in this transformation.  That's why our first principle should be: to support each other. From a fleet management point of view, this means educating our drivers to familiarise themselves with sharing technology.  This will prove an invaluable asset when the market offers newer, better mobility solutions that will enable us to get rid of the 'my car' concept.

Secondly, we need to continue embracing the solutions proposed by OEMs and leasing companies.  

Don't look for comprehensive programmes that will solve all issues for you, but consider each new solution as a separate step forward.

And finally, think about your car policies. A mature car policy enforces sharing technology, even in its early stages, and takes steps towards the dissociation of car and driver. Taking those steps - even if they are just baby steps - is exactly our job today.

Authored by: Yves Helven