Fleet News

ALD looks for European fleet expansion

HAMBURG-based leasing and fleet management company ALD (AutoLeasing D) has announced major expansion plans in a bid to increase its share of the European fleet market.

The group, owned by Deutsche Bank, plans to increase its own network of operations around the world from its current base in seven European countries.

It also has representation in a further nine countries thanks to its close involvement with the Interleasing alliance that it helped to create in the early 1970s.

However, although ALD holds a strong market position in Germany, on the pan-European map it has been overtaken by major competitors - a fact it recognises and aims to change.

Managing director Thomas Bade said the group intended to 'tighten its own network' in an attempt to increase its presence in other European countries.

'Suppliers who own an international network are initially at an advantage. By controlling partners overseas, rather than being on an equal footing, you can set the prices and there are fewer problems,' he said.

International accounts manager Anselm Brackert said ALD and its partners were using one another to learn about how the market operates in individual European countries.

'A good partnership like our relationship with Interleasing is beneficial for both parties,' he said. 'We profit from the fact that our partners in other countries have a huge wealth of knowledge they can call upon. We don't need to start afresh and re-invent the wheel.

'Additionally, our partners in other countries are always open to new ideas. At regular meetings we discuss new products and services.'

One area the company was interested in exploring is how accident damage settlements are handled in the UK.

'There, accidents are directly dealt with in garages on-line. The damage is estimated and the details passed straight through to the insurers. This holds real potential for savings,' said Brackert.

'With such new ideas and the sharing of best practice, we can be more flexible than some competitors who have limited product portfolios and can only offer certain services.'

He added that more companies, particularly larger ones, will be looking for a single supplier to handle the whole of their fleet on a pan-European basis.

ALD has experienced a sharp growth in demand for European solutions over the past five years, and believes all big blue chip companies will sooner or later internationalise their fleets.

'Five years ago, we had about 10 inquiries a year of a European nature. Today, we are receiving more than 50 and that will continue to grow,' said Brackert. Karsten Rosel, managing director of ALD-owned Car Professional Management (CPM), said his customers were comparing service levels of individual suppliers worldwide more than ever before.

He said these comparisons could also be of great benefit to suppliers as well as their customers.

'There are, for instance, key performance indicators,' he said. 'In benchmarking, special parameters are set up in order to measure the quality of service. We then receive feedback from our customers about how we compare on a European level - how long, for instance, it takes for a fuel card to be delivered. This is good for us because we can measure our efficiency and establish what needs to be improved.'

In the longer term, ALD forecasts that major accounts will only be interested in the cost per kilometre of their fleet. Everything else they will outsource to their service provider, who will take responsibility for the entire fleet operation.

Yet major obstacles continue to stand in the way of such pan-European agreements, particularly the different market practices and conditions in each country.

'When I read a tender I immediately recognise which country it is from,' said Brackert.

'Just recently, an English company wanted to know how high the dealer bonus is and which manufacturer gives what discounts. And in the UK, for instance, residual values are compared with the average price which the auctioneers get for the vehicles. This is market-specific to England and is not known in Germany in this format.'

Although the ALD group aims to offer common services and procedures wherever it can across Europe, it also recognises the barriers in its way.

'There are limits to the framework over which we sadly have no influence. 'The different taxes, laws, hourly rates of pay or sales of the manufacturer force us to make country-specific offers of supply with different prices.

'Until harmonisation is complete, we are limited to how much we can harmonise our performance,' said Bade. (May 2000)

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