MaaS Appeal: How Mobility as a Service is changing the face of fleet

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Mobility as a Service is increasingly becoming part of corporate considerations but just how far is it shaping fleet management decision-making around the world? Curtis Hutchinson finds out.

Mobility as a Service

The rate of change blowing through the global fleet sector is unprecedented. Internal combustion engines are on notice as legislative moves across different continents seek to ban them over the coming decades. Fleets are now faced with making electrification work as a practical alternative which also makes financial sense.

Meanwhile, company cars are no longer automatically considered an essential part of job packages by employers or employees, with high levels of personal taxation prompting both to weigh up more cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternatives.

Against this backdrop the emergence of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) offerings, focused on the greater integration of flexible modes of public and private transportation, are moving out of left field and into the mainstream.

The balance of power is shifting from fleet providers to end users who have become increasingly empowered as consumers. The rise of on-demand digital services – which initially fulfilled entertainment needs, with the likes of Netflix and Spotify – have extended into transportation with the emergence of ride-hailing in the wake of Uber and Lyft and car-sharing trailblazed by ZipCar.

So how is the rollout of MaaS impacting the management of fleets in different international markets? We asked key fleet providers in North America and Europe to explain the current demand for MaaS and how they expect it to evolve in the coming years.

MaaS in North America

The uptake of MaaS in fleet is a major focus for the New Jersey-based Holman Strategic Ventures, part of the Holman Enterprises group, and sister company to global fleet giant ARI. According to Tony Candeloro, senior vice president, technology and operations, MaaS in fleet is evolving as a consideration but not yet as a pre-requisite.

“In North America, the demand for MaaS solutions has not yet reached the point of increased demand but there is certainly increased interest in exploring how MaaS can be integrated into the traditional fleet mix to potentially lower operating costs,” he says. “Fleets, particularly in North America, remain truck-centric with an emphasis on moving both people and equipment and often the vehicle itself is an essential tool for the job. For most organisations, they’ll need to determine if their drivers need a fleet vehicle or simply a ride and we’re working closely with our customers to help them answer this question.

“Over the next five years or so, mobility options will likely become more viable in terms of reliability and convenience, giving fleet operators additional options for right-sizing their fleet,” he adds.

Balancing the books

To gain traction MaaS will need to integrate with existing fleet policies, which Candeloro believes will see the emergence of budgeting by the total cost of mobility. “Traditional fleet management strategies are focused primarily on asset management and driver behaviour, typically with an emphasis on achieving the lowest total cost of vehicle ownership,” he says. “As MaaS business models begin to integrate with traditional fleet operations, fleet managers will shift their focus to managing their total cost of mobility. This will include incorporating car-sharing, ride-hailing and transportation allowances for employees in place of a company vehicle or vehicle allowance.

“We anticipate that the biggest differences between managing a traditional fleet and a MaaS-enabled fleet will be around the concept of ‘time and touches’,” adds Candeloro. “MaaS solutions will require fleet managers to have visibility and oversight on more timely transactions and more vehicle touches by their drivers.”

As fleets move towards embracing more MaaS solutions aimed at delivering more comprehensive mobility solutions, Holman Strategic Ventures believes there will be tangible business benefits. “For most businesses, the main benefits of adopting MaaS solutions into their fleet operations include the opportunity to reduce overall fleet costs, enhance their drivers’ experience, increase efficiency and improve sustainability,” states Candeloro. “In certain mobility business models, there may also be opportunities for traditional fleets to share their own vehicles outside their company, potentially creating an additional revenue source by using their existing fleet assets.”

MaaS in Europe

In common with North America, there is a high level of awareness of MaaS among fleet decision-makers but, according to Faustine Andres, head of product management and innovation at ALD Automotive, the uptake is also low. “On the whole, demand is still quite limited at this stage,” she admits. “We estimate that approximately 5%

of the requests for proposals we receive for corporate fleets address MaaS needs.

“One of the reasons why demand for MaaS solutions is still limited is, in part, due to the numerous new providers in the market and the flurry of innovative solutions which make it difficult for clients to determine exactly what they need,” explains Andres. “As a result, we are seeing that clients, among those most advanced in terms of adopting MaaS, frequently ask us to support them through consultancy missions to look at the best way of addressing MaaS in their mobility policy.”

According to Andres, these corporate clients acknowledge the complexity of finding the right balance when combining public transportation with additional mobility solutions such as car, scooter, bike and ride-hailing services. “Ultimately, they want a solution that is available through a simple App which provides a seamless driver experience and includes journey planning, booking, access to mobility options, payments and, for fleet managers, overall monitoring of usage and associated costs.

“We believe that demand will grow and accelerate with the adoption of new legislation which will be more favourable to public transportation, shared asset usage, be it vans or shuttles or micro-mobility, as cars are progressively taken out of cities with the exception of EVs,” she says.

When it comes to how MaaS sits alongside traditional fleet management requirements among corporate customers, ALD points to MaaS currently tending to just address specific employee requirements, although this will change over time.

“MaaS is very much designed for daily commuting and occasional professional mobility in urban environments. It suits employees with a specific profile and generally appeals to younger-generation drivers,” says Andres. “In five years’ time, we can expect new MaaS solutions to resonate with a larger percentage of fleet drivers. Big cities are expected to grow and one would think MaaS will grow naturally with this societal trend. On the other hand, we observe that many people want to live outside cities in light of rising real estate prices in city centres.”

Andres expects mid-range MaaS solutions “in five to 10 years from now” around rail and bus, with last-mile arrangements made from home to station and from workplace to station. “These options will appeal to corporate fleet commuters entitled to a mobility package,” she says.

However trends are already emerging in different European countries. Andres points to the popularity of car-sharing in Italy, Spain and France and bicycles and e-bikes in the Netherlands and Belgium. “Inevitably the cultural differences that make Europe so diverse will also influence what MaaS solutions will emerge and where,” she predicts. “We can expect mobility allowances to take off across Europe as offers are better defined and more easily accessible with the exception of drivers who will continue to need to make daily long-distance journeys for their jobs.”

It is still early days for MaaS in fleet and the clear parallels between experiences in North America and Europe suggest plenty of interest but still relatively low levels of delivery. Although this is certain to change as a result of legislation and the rollout of technology aimed at aggregating MaaS services.

Arval Mobility Hub

Arval builds MaaS awareness with Mobility Hub

Arval has acknowledged the growing importance of MaaS with the 2019 opening of a dedicated high-tech Mobility Hub at its Dutch headquarters and plans to open three more hubs worldwide. The 2,700m2 centre is being used to showcase Arval’s current and future MaaS services to fleet customers.

“With over 40,000 cars on the road in the Netherlands, we are an important indicator of what is happening in the field of mobility. We do not close our eyes to future developments. With the launch of our Mobility Hub we offer the visitor a total experience, in which all our products and services come together,” says Liam Donnelly, general manager of Arval Netherlands.

Arval believes the centre will help build awareness and understanding of MaaS solutions. “Demand for more flexible mobility solutions is growing. But the transition to a full MaaS solution is still limited. We receive more tenders with a request for a MaaS solution but the definition of a MaaS solution can differ by client, from a basic mobility card to a full blown mobility budget,” says Donnelly.

“The expectation is that the demand for such a MaaS solution will grow over the next five years as everyone becomes more CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) aware and flexible working becomes more the norm,” he adds. “This type of solution will best suit large city environments where travelling by car has become more difficult.” he said.

The most popular MaaS solutions in the Netherlands are corporate car sharing and mobility cards for trains, with Arval anticipating a boost in mobility budgets and bike leasing in the coming years. “The benefits of MaaS for the clients can be smaller company fleet sizes, more flexibility, lower CO2 emissions and less administration,” says Donnelly. “The company is also seen as being a modern and flexible employer who gives their employees choice.”

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Curtis Hutchinson

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