Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has made significant in-roads into the European fleet segment over the past three years under the command of European fleet boss Alessandro Grosso. However, not all markets have increased at the same rate and now the UK and Germany are gaining more of the focus.
“There are 10 major markets in Europe in true fleet and they account for around 3.5 million vehicles,” says Grosso. “That includes fleet sales through our dealers, long-term rental and all their sub-channels from corporate to private.
Tech solutions to boost FCA fleet
In a bid to both keep in touch with end users and increase sales, FCA has two Europe-wide web-based systems called Drivers Club and Privilege.
“I have lots of different customers,” says FCA European fleet boss Alessandro Grosso. (pictured below) “There are the leasing companies, the corporates, the fleet manager, but also the user-chooser. All those levels are filters. It makes the user-chooser like a ghost to us.”
To connect with current FCA drivers the company has launched Drivers Club.
“We give people [FCA drivers/owners] the chance to join the Drivers Club with only the registration plate. With that you can get leisure gifts, physical gifts, according to your car. With this I can find out the renewal date and I can directly attack the user-chooser. We know that 86% of people who drive an FCA car renew with us. We only know this because they use the Drivers Club.”
Privilege is essentially an affinity scheme, although Grosso does not like the term. “It means we can offer FCA partners and our employees the chance to buy at the best discount rate but also the best lease rate.
“With Drivers Club and Privilege we have gained more than 3000 more orders in nine months.”
“So that’s about 30% market share across the 10 major markets, and by those I mean Italy, France, Germany, Spain, the UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Poland, Austria and Switzerland.”
In 2015, FCA had 4% of the fleet market at a European level, according to Grosso (pictured). “Now we are at 5% in Europe.
“We have been growing in all of the countries, including the UK and Germany. In Spain, we doubled our market share from 3-6%. In France, we have more than double digit growth.”
However, Grosso admits: “I’m not playing in a good way in the UK and Germany. Those two markets account for 45% of the total weight of fleet in Europe. I’m playing, but not in the proper way. That means that I have a special project with these countries that should be at the same as the European level.”
FCA’s newest strategy is based on several “pillars” including product and customer experience.
On the product front, the group has one of the widest ranges of any manufacturer because it has not only Fiat cars, but also Fiat commercial vehicles, Alfa Romeo, Jeep and even the Abarth and Maserati brands.
“In terms of our FCA product we have the best coverage of sectors of the market including LCV. I want to play in all of the market sub-channels, too.
“What that claim means is that I can offer a car in any segment that the customer wants. It also means the customer can have these in any channel so they can buy, lease, or rent,” says Grosso.
He points out that he is mirroring the way the larger leasing companies are working in order for better communication and tie-ins with these firms. This means FCA’s European fleet operation is segmented by the type of customer and the way they run a vehicle. The customer segments include individual business cars often operated under a business contract hire package through a retailer, through SME customers up to large corporates, both of which may acquire their fleets in a number of ways.
“Small business is the biggest growing sector of the market it’s also the most profitable for both us and the leasing companies. They’re looking for mobility solutions.”
However, the large corporate sector still takes 50% of the market, according to Grosso.
“We are a good player here because that’s where we invested in the past and now we have the product, so all we have to do is collect owners. We are the preferred supplier for BT both for passenger cars and LCV and we are the preferred supplier for some ambulance trusts and for Rentokil.”
FCA’s plan for growth in the UK and across Europe is to work more closely with the leasing firms and brokers.
“We have to work more directly with the leasing companies in order to develop all the sub-channels; telesales, digital sales and e-commerce. These distribution channels should be combined with our channels, that way we should cover all of the market.
Grosso claims this should result in a “perfect storm” of fleet sales.
“One area we could do more in in the UK is Motability, particularly with Jeep because the SUV segment is booming.”
In a bid to capture a greater proportion of cars that go to fleets via brokers, FCA is working with its in-house lease firm Leasys.
“More than 40% of leasing sales are being made through brokers. We have been investing a lot with our captive leasing firm Leasys. And some of that investment is into a broker channel. Also we are partners with the main brokers in the UK,” says Grosso.
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