In May and June, Fleet News surveyed all the major manufacturers to find out how they were responding to the coronavirus pandemic, how they are supporting their fleets customers and their views on the type of impact it would have on the fleet sector.
Here is FCA's response.
Fleet News spoke to Iain Montgomery, FCA fleet and business sales director (answers as at 5/6/20)
How are you and your team staying operational in times of Covid-19?
Like most businesses, we have had to look carefully at balancing the needs of our business with the need to keep our customers supported and to maintain a pipeline of enquiries and orders ready for when restrictions are lifted.
Our sales team have been working hard to support our key customers during this challenging time; especially the Ambulance trusts, by actively keeping communications open.
They have also been responding to incoming enquiries which have been relatively consistent; especially for commercial vehicles. We identified our key staff at an early stage and our business centre remained available throughout to allow us to continue to offer a continuity of service and support.
What action are you taking to support fleets during the Covid-19 crisis?
We have maintained our central business centre operations, allowing us to field enquiries and respond to customers. Our team has been able to keep in good contact with our customers to update on any delivery delays and rescheduling these.
During this time, we have run a daily video conference allowing prioritisation and re-planning to react to the situation across the whole department. Many of our retailers remained open to service essential vehicles and we were able to ensure that any urgent requirements were met.
We have already started to deliver vehicles to our showrooms and our logistics partners resumed limited operations earlier in May.
Our retail network has begun a phased reopening, implementing a detailed and extensive action plan to ensure the safety of customers and staff.
Strict social distancing measures with clear floor markings and sanitising stations have been installed in all showrooms, while disposable personal protective equipment, including gloves and facemasks, are readily available for all staff members and visitors.
We have even removed all brochures, leaflets, toys and magazines, instead distributing all promotional materials digitally, to ensure that our customers are able to visit us and transact safely.
Will Covid-19 have a bigger and longer lasting impact on our industry than the financial crisis in 2008?
There is no doubt that the impact of Covid-19 will be felt for months, if not years to come and the financial impact presents our customers with challenges.
Logistics for goods, services and staff travel has been high on the agenda and the market has been changing rapidly over the past few months and this is now likely to come under more intense scrutiny as organisations consider the financial and environmental costs.
The last few months have demonstrated that working from home and remote meetings is a viable alternative to office working so the company car market may see some dramatic changes. This fits with the current imperative to reduce CO2 so fleet manufacturers will need to provide flexible solutions.
Please outline your exit strategy and how you believe the way business is carried out in future might change – the so-called ‘new normal’.
FCA has recently overviewed the services we offer and made some dramatic changes to how we engage with our customers and present our fleet solutions. Remote working and virtual account management is a cornerstone to our customer strategy and FCA is well place to deliver a great level of remote service to our customers.
It is likely that for the medium term, as a solution for the pandemic is sought, home working and essential travel only is likely to be the ‘new normal’.
How soon do you think fleet sales will recover after the coronavirus threat is over?
During the pandemic, we have seen a reduction in enquiry levels for new company cars, we have seen contracts extended during the uncertainty and we have been working closely with our customers to ensure that vehicles that need replacing are in place to change over once restrictions are lifted.
Logistics operations have continued during the pandemic and, in many cases, increased the mileage covered as home delivery demand surged. We see that demand will return quickly as organisations look to catch up on their fleet requirements.
Will we experience a break on the development of MaaS and fleet electrification?
We believe that demand for MaaS and electrification will accelerate as cost becomes a driver to organisations as they build recovery plans from the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic.
Major investment decisions such as fleet and logistics are likely to be highly considered from a cost perspective and it is likely that alternative solutions for company car and commercial fleets will be sought.
We are confident that our product range - especially with the new electric Ducato, Fiat 500 and our Hybrid range across Fiat and Jeep - as well as the changes in how we operate put us in a strong position to support our partners and prospective customers.