LeasePlan agrees to provide FCA customers fleet solutions in select European markets


In several European markets where FCA does not operate its own captive arm, LeasePlan will now offer operational lease solutions to FCA customers.

The vehicle leasing and fleet management provider announced Monday that it has agreed to be a new FCA operational lease partner that will concentrate on the growing small and medium enterprise (SME) segment of car buyers.

FCA SME customers in Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland can now take advantage of full operational lease products that are available on a preferred partner basis from LeasePlan.

LeasePlan said it defines SME customers as those with up to 25 vehicles in their fleet.

“SME is LeasePlan's fastest-growing segment and a crucial element in our strategy to lead the European Car-as-a-Service market,” LeasePlan senior vice president commercial Berno Kleinherenbrink said in a news release. “I'm therefore delighted to announce our new partnership with FCA, which gives us an additional route to serve the important SME segment.

“These customers want flexible, hassle-free and fast solutions — and that's exactly what we provide,” Kleinherenbrink continued.

At year-end last year, SME vehicles made up about 17 percent of LeasePlan's serviced fleet, according to the company.

In contrast to traditional white label agreements, LeasePlan explained that its new partnership with FCA is based on a referral model where the automaker will provide vehicles with an operational lease managed fully by LeasePlan.

The partnership aims to deliver customers flexible, cost-effective solutions in a short amount of time, according to LeasePlan.

“This is the first partnership of its kind for LeasePlan with a major European OEM,” the company said.

With pre-configured FCA vehicles available, LeasePlan said customers can receive the vehicles they select within two weeks.

Additionally, LeasePlan said that it will extend both training and certification to FCA dealers on its SME products and service portfolio.

Donlen rolls out comprehensive recall management tool


Donlen recently rolled out a solution to help fleet managers navigate through what can be one of the most challenging part of the jobs — watching for vehicle recalls.

Donlen released its latest recall management offering — Recall inSIGHT — a solution that can gives fleet professionals full visibility to their vehicle fleet’s open recalls, so they can take immediate action by working with their drivers to efficiently manage and address OEM and NHTSA recalls.

Donlen’s Recall inSIGHT can provides a comprehensive platform to identify open and/or closed recalls that can be sorted by campaigns as well as individual vehicles affected by recalls.

Using this platform, Donlen customers can filter recall campaigns by severity ratings and campaign status to prioritize the highest risk recalls and take action as soon as OEMs announce that they are ready to perform recall repairs.

“Recall InSIGHT comes with industry-leading features and benefits that are not offered in the fleet management industry today,” said Oliver Zerhusen, Donlen vice president of maintenance/accident products and supplier management.

“By screening more than 50 OEM and NHTSA recall databases on a daily basis, we provide comprehensive recall information for our customer’s entire fleet,” Zerhusen said.

Donlen customers will be able to access recall information through Donlen’s FleetWeb Intelligence Visualization Suite where they can view the progress of recall completion across their entire fleet by each open recall campaign. The company emphasized this capability can eliminate the need to check multiple OEM/NHTSA websites for recall campaign progress and individual vehicle recall repair completion.


2 factors changing landscape of fleet sales

CARY, N.C. - 

Dumping sedans into fleet sales is certainly a path-of-least-resistance option leveraged by automakers in the past, but experienced used-car market observers understand the severe damage that strategy can do.

However, in light of technology advances and consumer preferences — not only in the United States but also globally — pulling the fleet lever doesn’t quite have the keep-the-metal moving impact that automakers experienced, especially when it comes to those sedans.

Cox Automotive senior economist Charlie Chesbrough and Autotrader executive analyst Michelle Krebs explained why during a conference call earlier this month.

“Consumers are clearly indicating that they love crossovers, and they can’t get enough of them,” Chesbrough said.

“We don’t see an end to this shift,” said Krebs, who later added, “There has to be a lot of contemplation going on in product planning meetings about how many car models and how much car production capacity each automaker has versus their utility lines and those capacities. I’m sure those discussions are going on.”

Perhaps those discussions are happening particularly within the meeting spaces in Michigan where domestic automakers have a noticeable presence in fleet sales. Here’s a quick rundown of what the Big 3 reported in the fleet department for January:

— Ford: Fleet sales of 45,956 vehicles were down 12.0 percent due primarily to a planned change in delivery timing of daily rental sales.

— General Motors: The automaker indicated 23.8 percent of January sales went into the fleet segment, representing a 2.9-percent lift year-over-year.

— Fiat-Chrysler: The OEM reported fleet activity accounted for 16 percent of total January sales.

The reported metric from Chrysler struck Chesbrough, who said, “That’s a fairly healthy range to be in, if you had to pick a number for fleet.

“Early indications are that there may be some agreements between the OEMs on who they’re supplying. Whether this trend carries through the rest of the year, we don’t know. Fleet was a big story last year. Cutting back in fleet by a couple hundred thousand units basically took us back from being close to another record sales level to seeing sales come in a little bit below,” he continued.

“So if fleet is weak again, it does suggest the market is going to have a hard time hitting even the high 16 million that most forecasters have right now,” Chesbrough went on to say.

And when even fleet sales are soft for a particular new model, Chesbrough explained that automakers now have limited options to retail those units beyond the United States, previously a viable choice.

“As much as we see here in the United States this shift away from cars and more toward this crossovers, this is a global phenomenon,” he said.

“This is happening in every major market around the world. Consumers love the crossover vehicles. They’re not that interested in cars anymore,” Chesbrough said.

“It makes the strategy for all OEMs to say, ‘How much do we invest in these cars?’ They have a lower margin. Before you could always say, ‘Well after we satisfy demand here we can ship it somewhere else and that will be the play.’ But because there is not a lot of demand for these vehicles anywhere, that’s not a viable option,” Chesbrough added.

Perhaps the advancements automakers have made to enrich profitable CUVs are coming at the cost of the value proposition sedan could offer.

“Another factor is we’ve made such advancements in fuel technology for these bigger vehicles. It was always the case that higher gas prices or the threat of higher gasoline prices always brought buyers back home to cars. They had a lower operating cost,” Chesbrough said.

“But now there’s not that big difference in fuel economy. There’s really no savings to be had but getting into the car version of a platform over the CUV version. I think it’s going to be a tough road to hoe for cars. I don’t see them coming back anytime soon even if gas prices spike, I see them coming back only a little bit,” he went on to say.

Krebs shared an example of a specific vehicle that’s often turned first in the fleet segment and then being impacted by the appeal of utilities. She added how the matter is compounded with an off-lease surge of popular models.

“With the (Chevrolet) Cruze, that’s a car that has significant fleet sales. When GM cuts back on fleet, it’s going to hit vehicles like the Cruze,” Krebs said.

“There’s are going to be a lot of off-lease utility vehicles coming back into the market so someone might be thinking about a brand new Cruze because that what’s they can afford — and I’m not picking on the Cruze — but they really want a sport utility. And now they’ve got more choices with more 3-year-old utilities in the market,” she went on to say.

Also during the call, Krebs interjected to a consumer-facing media participant about why avoiding fleet-heavy sales — in the United States or anywhere — is prudent no matter what vehicle segment is popular.

“Part of the strategy of some of the automakers to move away from fleet so they can keep their resale values up. It’s not a total negative across the board,” she said.

3 key findings from multi-source 2018 fleet analysis


Runzheimer, a business vehicle technology and solutions provider, combed through more than a half dozen sources — including Manheim, Edmunds, IHS Markit and the National Automobile Dealers Association — to compile its Vehicle Capital Costs Trend Report.

Firm analysts cautioned fleet managers and other auxiliary service providers that new-vehicle prices in the U.S. have risen steadily since 2012 and potentially that trend could continue in 2018, citing their comprehensive data review suggesting that this will be the case.

Runzheimer suggested that the increase in vehicle costs is something businesses with fleet programs will need to consider when planning budgets for this year. The report mentioned three other crucial findings, including:

• The overall average price of a new vehicle will increase moderately over the next 12 months by 1 percent to 2 percent.

• As inventory in the used vehicle market steadily increases, residual values will decrease over the next 12 months by 2 percent to 3.5 percent.

• Depreciation is expected to increase 1 percent to 1.5 percent.


New service connects drivers with car rental agencies for free 1-way rentals


Global fleet logistics company Transfercar has rolled out new rental fleet relocation services in Chicago, Boston and Minneapolis that offers drivers free one-way car rentals.

In an effort to align rental car companies fleet relocation needs with consumer travel requirements, is working with various agencies to relocate their inventory via consumers rather than depend on trucks, trains or professional drivers.

“We've created a website that connects rental car companies needing to transfer their cars with travelers eager to drive them in exchange for a free trip,” Transfercar co-founder and chief executive officer Brian Karlson said in a news release.

“This model provides a win-win solution where travelers get the opportunity to get a free one-way car rental, while rental companies save big money on relocation costs. While drivers may be subject to very small mandatory taxes or fees, even if the rental rate is free, they will experience enormous savings.”

While small mandatory taxes, fees and charges imposed by airports or local and state government agencies may apply, Transfercar only requires that renters return their vehicles on-time and abide by any given miles restrictions, according to the company.

The Transfercar website currently offers rentals in Chicago, Boston or Minneapolis that need to be dropped off in Miami and Orlando, Fla., within three days.

Donlen brings aboard 2 new execs


Donlen recently announced that it has brought aboard Bob Barna to serve as vice president of strategic sales and Ian Crapper as managing director of global business.

“As Donlen advances our offerings for large, global fleets, we are committed to investing in and retaining successful, results-oriented fleet professionals,” Donlen president Tom Callahan said in a news release. “Bob and Ian’s expertise and leadership will ensure that our growing customer base continues to be served at the highest level.”

Barna most recently spent four years in business development at LeasePlan where he forged new client relationships with large fleets across the western region of the U.S, according to Donlen.

In his new role, in addition to being responsible for building relationships with companies throughout the country, Barna will also collaborate with Donlen’s sales territory managers to administer proactive and ongoing strategic solutions to fleets.

“The Donlen team offers an unparalleled offering with the knowledge and experience to improve the efficiency of any size fleet,” Barna said. “I look forward to the opportunities of building off of Donlen’s proven customer service approach, and leveraging their extensive technology platform to provide value to large fleets.”

As new managing director of global business, Crapper has been tasked with managing Donlen’s global fleet program to enhance services for existing global customers. 

Crapper is a sales executive who brings more than 20 years of business experience. Prior to joining Donlen, Crapper led sales and marketing efforts at LeasePlan Canada.

“Working with Donlen’s far-reaching global partners is a tremendous opportunity for me and our customers. I feel the team and our approach will bring tremendous success to Donlen’s worldwide customers,” added Crapper.

ARI, ISM team up for free supply management webinar


Fleet services provider ARI is partnering with the Institute for Supply Management to host a webinar on Tuesday. 

The webinar, “Lease vs. Purchase in the Era of New Accounting Rule — What’s Best for your Fleet,” is scheduled for 1 p.m. (EST) tomorrow.

Listeners will hear from ARI’s director of lease portfolio management Jesse Mann, who will be exploring the differences between leasing, financing and purchasing fleet vehicles and the impact each can have on an organization’s fiscal outlook, the company shared.

“For many businesses, navigating complex acquisition scenarios can be overwhelming, but it is vital that you have the insight and tools necessary to make the best possible long-term decision for your organization,” said Mann.

“Now more than ever before, technology and advanced analytics allow you to take a more data-driven approach to evaluating the most suitable funding option for your fleet to ensure your acquisition strategy aligns with your company’s key financial goals,” Mann continued.

On top of covering different methods of acquisition, attendees will also hear from Mann on what factors should be included in the decision-making process to help ensure their fleet remains on the road.

Further, they will learn about how potential future changes to accounting standards may affect businesses and their fleet operations.

To register for Tuesday’s webinar, .

Donlen adds new telematics functionality for fleet drivers to DonlenDrive app


Donlen has added new telematics functionality to its DonlenDrive mobile app mobile app that provides fleet drivers with access to important vehicle documents and notifications.

DonlenDrive is now integrated with DriverPoint Telematics, which gives fleet drivers access to daily driving and vehicle health data received from telematics devices.

Prior to the added functionality delivered via the new integration, only fleet managers and supervisors were able to view daily driving and vehicle health data offered by Donlen’s DriverPoint Telematics software, according to Donlen.

“Once inside the app, drivers will be able to see how many trips they’ve taken, the number of hours they’ve spent driving, the number of miles they’ve driven within that month, as well as the location and time that unsafe driving behavior, such as harsh acceleration, deceleration or speeding has occurred,” Donlen director of telematics and safety products Tom Sloan said in a news release.

“Drivers will also be able to view critical areas of vehicle health such as odometer, tire pressure and oil level. Fleet managers and drivers will be provided visibility to the same telematics data points, so they can better work together towards decreasing risky driving behavior and improving fleet safety. We are excited that we continue to make our solution better than before.”

With DonlenDriver, drivers can access crucial information related to personal tax reporting, new vehicle ordering and company policy compliance.

Car Keys Express introduces new mobile-to-consumer service


Car Keys Express announced Wednesday that the company is extending its service by offering consumers on-site, instant automotive key replacement via an Uber-inspired webpage where users can choose from one of three service levels.

The levels of service include the following three options:

  • Priority— receive same-day service with ability to further upgrade to "Custom Critical" for service on nights and weekends.
  • Standard—pick a later time for service at a lower price.
  • Economy—meet a technician at one of their regularly scheduled stops, consumers get maximum savings.

"We've spent fifteen years perfecting a mobile solution for businesses to manage this increasing cost. It's grown us into a nationwide company and put us on Inc. Magazine's list of the fastest growing companies two years in a row,” Car Keys Express owner and founder Mark Lanwehr said in a news release. “Now we're offering consumers the same solution. Carmakers have had a virtual monopoly for decades. We're the first to bring it to consumers. With 250,000,000 North American drivers, it's a significant opportunity."

The company said it has been growing rapidly since the 2000s when carmakers began to add expensive features to keys.

"Increases in automotive key technology have driven up their cost. In the eighties, you'd pay a few dollars to replace a set of keys, today it can exceed a thousand dollars," added Lanwehr.

Record360 integrates app into loaner vehicle solution


Record360 recently announced it has integrated its asset documentation App into TSDLOANER, TSD’s cloud-based solution designed to track and manage rental and loaner car fleets.

With the addition of Record360, TSDLOANER users can now enhance the walkaround process within their loaner departments, the company said.

Both dealers and customers have the ability to digitize and time-stamp the condition of loaner vehicles in real-time.

At hand-off and upon return, these features can reduce unnecessary customer damage disputes or claims, according to Record360.

“Loaner vehicles traditionally have been a great way to provide a super-convenient, free service to valued customers when it’s most critical to them,” Record360 chief executive officer Shane Skinner said in a news release.

“An outstanding way to drive goodwill, the last thing any dealer wants is to have a good deed go punished through unnecessary claims or disputes. That’s a quick way to ruin a relationship. Record360 seamlessly optimizes the process of vehicle condition documentation with better clarity for both customer and dealer,” he explained.

TSDLOANER can help fleet owners manage loaner vehicles more efficiently by improving CSI, reducing liability, controlling expenses and enabling personalized paperwork processing.

Additionally, in the near future, the two companies also expect to integrate Record360 into the TSDRENTAL solution, according to Record360.