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A pool of opportunities

Flexible handling, effective capacity utilisation, optimum capital expenditure: the advantages of vehicle pools are clear to see. Yet the administrative burden on fleet managers can often be significant, which makes it all the better when the right (digital) instruments are at hand.

Nothing could be more antiprogressive in the entrepreneurial sense than the alleged wise saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Those who opt for inaction will soon be left behind. This is especially true in the age of digitalisation. When managing a vehicle pool, in other words when the fleet vehicles are used by several vehicle drivers, it is especially important that fleet managers can rely on the opportunities offered by digitalisation. After all, who still wants to maintain analogue logbooks today or manage vehicle data, maintenance intervals and availabilities in loose-leaf binders and organise vehicle reservations using sticky notes or message boards?

Digitalisation does not end at the fleet manager’s desk – an abundance of suitable programmes are available for managing vehicle pools. Fleet management systems like FleetCARS from Volkswagen Financial Services AG and We Connect Fleet* from the Volkswagen Group provide commercial customers with a simple digital solution to manage their small to mid-size fleets efficiently and thus simplify their everyday working life. We Connect Fleet provides fleet managers with fast and uncomplicated access to important data in the web portal – while drivers can submit receipts, report damage or update logbooks digitally using the Connect Fleet app. A win-win for everyone. And best of all: a retrofit solution is available for We Connect Fleet to make it compatible with a number of models from other manufacturers. This is how intelligent fleet management operates today.

The burden can be eased on smaller companies too by incorporating the vehicle reservation process into an email client like Outlook. In the case of large Groups, on the other hand, access control should be set up for every employee, which ensures that vehicles are only released if the user can present a valid driver’s licence and/or has received the required vehicle training in accordance with accident prevention regulations. The wealth of opportunities is considerable in this respect and can be adapted individually to suit virtually all needs.

A solution like the Move Car service, which Volkswagen has been using since November 1st, is ideal for fleet managers who want to provide their employees with vehicles by means of car sharing. That’s because unlike what has often been the case up to now, the driver simply reserves a time slot via the app, rather than a specific vehicle. If the vehicle is an electric car, it is first checked which vehicle is free and sufficiently charged. The route, transport requirements and number of people are then checked in the next step. A likewise clever solution was found for communication between the sharing vehicle and user. This works via Bluetooth. “An Internet connection is only needed to download the virtual key before the journey starts and to end the journey. Problems parking in underground car parks are a thing of the past”, says Christian Hübscher, Project Manager for Move Car. The innovative car sharing solution was programmed in the SEAT software development centre in Barcelona. SEAT provides this technology to other companies and external operators on request, both public and private.

Hygiene is more important now than ever before
When it comes to cleanliness, the room for manoeuvre is more limited. The coronavirus crisis has illustrated the importance of clear hygiene rules. Especially when vehicles are used by several people, special guidelines should apply with respect to cleanliness. Yet experienced fleet managers know: some drivers treat even a pool vehicle as a sacred possession – and look after it accordingly. Others tend to view it as a commodity, in which they can smoke and eat at times. When these two worlds collide, conflicts are inevitable.

This makes it all the more important to convey sensitive communication in advance. A short and concise set of rules that everyone can relate to undoubtedly helps – for example that disinfection of the vehicle must be arranged and hygiene items, such as tissues, must always be removed. Such rules can be communicated, for example, via communication channels such as the Intranet or in-house company apps. A simple mirror tag in the car with the listed requirements can also provide clarity in case of doubt. It can help for good measure to minimise the rotation of vehicles. If different drivers use similar vehicles, it makes sense to limit their respective pool.

 

Instruction made easy
In addition to safety aspects and a code of conduct, the hygiene rules are also always part of the obligatory instruction for (new) vehicle drivers. Fleet managers can likewise rely on digital tools, such as a tutorial video instead of personal dialogue. This has the added benefit that the information can be accessed again later since the training is not dependent on location and all the important details have been conveyed. Another option is a company wiki, especially if the topic needs to be addressed in greater depth. As with the familiar online encyclopaedia, this involves developing an internal digital knowledge database and enriching it, ideally on an ongoing basis, with important information concerning vehicle usage – from A to Z and everything in between, including applicable fleet information, documentation of the condition of the vehicles, private usage and what to do in the event of damage. Such a source of reference can also facilitate the onboarding of new employees or new fleet users significantly.

 

Long-term rental for greater flexibility in the pool fleet
Independently of repairs and maintenance, efficient vehicle pool management also includes ensuring that there are always enough vehicles available, but not too many either. The coronavirus pandemic has presented fleet managers with a mammoth task in this respect too. Business trips were temporarily not possible and then only sporadically later on. The demand for vehicles continues to fluctuate in many companies. The option of long-term rental, for example from VW FS | Rent-a-Car, instead of purchasing or leasing is therefore becoming increasingly attractive. Vehicles can be rented from VW FS | Rent-a-Car for periods of between one month and one year at defined monthly costs. Throughout the entire rental period, business customers do not need to concern themselves with hidden additional costs, whether for rental car inspection, motor vehicle tax or the necessary insurance coverage. Moreover, VW FS | Rent-a-Car offers users of long-term rentals a comprehensive service package: for example, they benefit from an extensive service network for maintenance and repairs or emergency and claims management from Volkswagen Leasing GmbH. This model allows a flexible and swift response to changes – also in the case of fixed-term projects or during trial periods for new employees.
 

News on the topic

*currently available in Poland – additional markets to follow

Excluded are all-electric vehicles such as the ID.3* for example. Hybrid vehicles, on the other hand, are compatible. In addition, We Connect Fleet is not available at present for the 2019 and 2020 Passat, Arteon and Golf 8 models and with the Discover Media and Discover Pro infotainment systems.

*The ID.3 Pure Performance (power consumption in kWh/100 km: combined 13.8-13.1; CO2 emissions in g/km: combined 0; efficiency class: A+++) is temporarily unavailable for order with individual equipment.
 

Status: 30. November 2021

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