Global Fleet Conference: Closing the gaps in APAC Fleet Management
“Complex” and “Diverse” are the words most often used when describing the APAC fleet ecosystem and they reflect reality, and that was no different at the Global Fleet Conference. This however should not be a reason to avoid implementing global strategies or aligning your APAC fleets to your fleet management principles. Complex to manage indeed, but far from impossible, Asia offers many opportunities.
Where to start?
The APAC challenge can be broken down into 3 parts: size of geography, supply chain and cultural specifics. Tackling all three in one go is a job that few Fleet Managers have time and capacity for, but a few small steps can deliver high-value return.
A first one is to group countries that, from a solution point of view, are similar. For instance, grouping South-East Asian countries (mainly Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines) makes sense: you will find common suppliers, the fleet requirements are similar and so are available vehicles. Additionally, your South-East Asian colleagues will be used to working with other countries in SEA.
The same is true for South-Asia and East-Asia. China and ANZ however could be considered as separate groups: ANZ can easily be added to your EU scope because of its similarities with the European market, whilst China’s requirements are fundamentally different from any other country’s.
The APAC supply chain is unconsolidated indeed, but not impossible to manage. Vendors such as ORIX, Sumitomo, but also the major global vendors propose either local presence or partner vendors in the region. It makes sense to benefit from their services to streamline your supply chain.
Finally, appoint a local colleague to assist you. It is easier for an Asia-based person to interact with Asian countries: they’re in the same time zone and they already have the cultural background that would take you a long time to establish.
The fleet market itself is different from the EU/US markets; far too often, it is referred to as “immature,” which does not do justice to the APAC state of play.
The lease product itself might indeed be less sophisticated: contracts are often on duration only (no mileage), which implies that matrix contracts or mileage credits/debits are not available. On the other hand, as systems and processes are heavily supported by humans rather than automated and standardized, service levels are generally adequate. Reporting and invoicing unfortunately, are less flexible than what you would expect from EU/US vendors.
A few fundamental differences however need to be mentioned:
- Profiling of drivers and assessment of requirements are more important as is the case in so-called “mature” fleet countries. Your employees might be based in Bangkok, but drive up north every week to visit customers. Consequently, they’ll be needing a car that can deal with different types of roads and requires comfort and safety features that are different from pure city cars
- Your APAC employees might not have private cars and chances are likely that the company car is the only family car. Therefore, duplicating European policies with regards to private usage might be excessive. Also, you will find buy-back schemes that allow your APAC colleagues to acquire the cars at the end of the lease. Do not cancel these without consideration for the context in which they were created.
- Most APAC tax regimes are not tailored to leasing of company cars. In some countries, you will have to do lease versus buy assessments and involve local tax people.
Less mature, but more progressive?
Whilst Europeans are thinking out loud about mobility, the Asians are doing it. This needs a few words of explanation. Digitisation in Europe started 5 decades ago with computers that took up the space of a full room. Then came the personal computer, followed by the laptop and mobile devices. In Asia however, people enjoyed access to internet on mobile devices first; this means that the consumption experience must be highly flexible and digital. Another difference is that EU/US consumers are used to going somewhere to consume: they will go to supermarkets to buy groceries. In Asia, home deliveries have been the norm for ages.
The combination of “mobile” and “digital” explains the success of companies such as Grab. They have been offering ride-hailing, car sharing, ride sharing services for many years now and have become excellent at it. They also understand that consolidating primary services (transport, food, money…) on one platform makes sense for the Asian consumer and have developed the appropriate ecosystem to do so.
Why is this important for the Fleet Manager? Simply because a company car might not be the right option for all of your colleagues in APAC. If your employee is based out of Jakarta and needs to visit customers in the capital region, they’re better of without a car and receive a Gojek budget instead (Gojek and Tokopedia have just announced a merger, which expands the services of the Indonesia-based mobility provider into digital payments and e-commerce).
When integrating APAC into your global fleet program, don’t forget about technology, and more specially about the following features that tech can deliver:
- Fleet data: as your local providers will not be able to cover your entire fleet on one reporting tool, nor prepare the analytics that you need to make strategic decisions, it’s highly recommendable to implement a fleet management tool that can solve this for you.
- Driver safety: not all cars are NCAP 5 in APAC, so you’ll be wanting to add aftermarket safety features to improve your drivers’ safety performance. Telematics can help, and so can monitoring systems.
- Growth support: as Asia’s economy is strong, it is very likely that your company’s APAC affiliates are doing well and will be growing. The fleet (and mobility) expenditure will be rising and complexity will follow. As our experience in EU/US have learned us, soon you will be asked to demonstrate control and oversight – and ultimately savings. Here as well, invest in the technologies that can support you
Overall, APAC is a growth region with loads of fleet management potential. If this is your debut venturing into the region, make sure you make the right decisions: use tech to deal with complexity, trust your local colleagues and localize your policies.
Picture: Reggie Cabal, ORIX at the Global Fleet Conference