Leasing company Alphabet has unveiled a new mobility service in response to a strategic gap in the market. Customers can use a corporate mobility card to pay for alternative transport options to the company car.
The product, called AlphaFlex, has launched in Belgium and the Netherlands following successful trials with corporate customers.
Alphabet works with customers to develop a mobility policy and identify required transport options ranging from company cars to car sharing, bicycles, public transport and taxis.
Employees then receive a personal mobility budget, including a mileage allowance, which can be spent on any of the services offered by the employer. Options are funded either through regular monthly payments or use of the corporate mobility card.
Carsten Kwirandt, head of marketing and business development at Alphabet International, said mobility services would complement the provision of traditional company cars.
During a pilot covering five companies and 20 testers, the users appreciated being able to opt for different modes of transport depending on their needs, he added.
He said: ‘The company car is still a very important part of the offering. Our standard offering is a company car, mobility card, fuel management, add-on mobility services and a company bike.’
Autovista Intelligence’s Mobility Intelligence report reveals that leasing companies are increasingly focused on travel management, but any initiatives to introduce mobility cards or other forms of simplified payment have only made an appearance in the past year.
Mobility cards appear to be a major gap in leasing company strategy, which suggests there will be additional launches in future. Alphabet’s launch has targeted markets where rival LeasePlan also has a presence with its mobility card service.
Kwirandt said that Alphabet was targeting Benelux and Scandinavian markets because of their forward-thinking approach and high levels of acceptance of new technologies, ranging from electric vehicles to mobility services.
Automotive industry executives believe mobility cards will be adopted much more quickly within the fleet sector. Between 25-50% of fleets are expected to sign up to a scheme within the next five to 10 years.
Demand is likely to be driven by national and local governments, which are keen to set a positive example by promoting alternative transport options to reduce emissions and congestion. Other key sectors include pharmaceuticals and IT, where there are often large numbers of employees who use private cars on business journeys and then claim back the cost from their employer. These ‘grey fleet’ vehicles tend to be older and have high emissions compared to new cars.
Leasing companies are being urged by the fleet industry to create new mobility departments to serve the future transport needs of customers as they adopt business travel strategies that go beyond cars.
Julie Summerell, a regional chairman with the UK’s Association of Car Fleet Operators, argues the industry needs to take the risk of developing new services in anticipation of growing demand and to avoid being caught out when customers start asking for services that are not yet developed.
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