21 avr 20

How to keep afloat in wake of COVID-19, Latin America

As the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic worsens in Latin America, automobile and mobility companies throughout the region need to seek ways to maintain business activity as much as possible all while holding health and safety to its highest extent.

One benefit the region does have is that the pandemic hit other parts of the world first. This has given Latin America a preview of what to expect and a chance to prepare accordingly. Don’t repeat the errors taking place in other countries. Among other things, this means abiding by physical distancing measures and maintaining transparent lines of communcation within your company and with your clients.

While many companies have been economically impacted by quarantine periods mandated by governments to help reduce the contagion of the virus, some have found ways to stay afloat during the crisis.

One way to do this is to recognize the changing demands of today and to prepare for the needs of the near future. With that said, among the mobility demands on the rise today are the need for emergency vehicles as well as last-mile delivery services, the latter primarily being for food and pharmaceutical products.

While automaker production and sales are currently down, emergency vehicles are in higher demand in the wake of COVID-19. In Brazil, local automobile rental and leasing company Unidas closed a 27 million-real deal to purchase Brazilian fleet management firm Zetta Frotas in early April.

The acquisition is part of Unidas’ plan to develop a fleet of specialized vehicles such as ambulances, rescue and police vehicles, as well as ICU support units and funeral cars.

Meanwhile, last-mile delivery companies Rappi (Spain) and iFood (Brazil) are battling it out in Colombia where both have teamed up with local companies. While Softbank-backed Rappi has teamed up with Kiwibot, Prosus-backed iFood has teamed up with Domicilios.com.

Although Rappi leads market share in Colombia, the 51% purchase of Domicilios.com (owned by Delivery Hero) by iFood puts the Brazilian company in a good position, now with a network of 12,000 restaurants in 30-plus cities.

One way to combat COVID-19 contagion is to provide no-touch service, meaning that there is no person-to-person contact during deliveries and that only electronic payments are accepted. While iFood is currently eying robot and drone delivery, Rappi has already started it in Colombia.

The Spanish company is currently carrying out a pilot program until 8 July which entails a fleet of 15 four-wheel bots delivering food in the El Poblado neighborhood of Medellín. Currently, approximately 120 deliveries are accomplished per day.

Rappi delivery bots roam the streets of Medellín (source: Rappi)

These deliveries not only help to keep up with the high demand in Medellín but they are also more hygienic, the company says, highlighting that the bots are disinfected before and after each delivery.

As we can see, these are just a few examples of how companies can get through this unfortunate crisis. Although it will be difficult, with ingenuity, discipline, and patience, staying afloat can be achieved. Good luck to all!

Fleet LatAm is publishing a monthly issue of the Fleet LatAm Expert Insights, a comprehensive analysis document you can download to stay up to speed about vehicle fleet management in Latin America. This exclusive content is written by leading experts from the field. All Fleet LatAm Expert Insights will be available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

The first issue, 'How to tender your leasing contracts in Latin America', is now available to downloadThe next issue addresses fleet management in times of COVID-19 and will be available in May.

Authored by: Daniel Bland