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SPOTLIGHT: Peter Crabtree, corporate sales director, Europcar Mobility Group UK

Europcar Mobility Group’s mission is to be the preferred “Mobility Service Company”, by offering alternative attractive solutions to vehicle ownership, with a wide range of mobility-related services: vehicle-rental, chauffeur services, car-sharing, scooter-sharing and peer-to-peer car-rental. The Great British Fleet Event talked to Peter Crabtree, corporate sales director at the company.

Crabtree has worked in the fleet industry for over 20 years, initially working for the Bank of Scotland in the Wholesale Vehicle Finance team, where he and the team provided funding to the contract hire and rental sector.

Following long stints at Lombard Vehicle Management, sgfleet and WEX Europe, Crabtree joined Europcar Mobility Group UK as corporate sales director, at a time when the industry is increasingly looking at mobility as the answer for future fleets.

Crabtree can be seen driving his BMW 4 Series – a far cry from his first car, an original Mini – while listening to Talksport on the radio or Coldplay. Crabtree wouldn’t be without his car, which he sees as his mobile office and an essential tool for getting from A to B, and though he feels that he spends too much time behind the wheel – similar to both previous GBFE Spotlights and given half the chance – he wouldn’t say no to being able to enjoy the performance, technology and British craftsmanship of an Aston Martin DB11.

As for his role at Europcar Mobility Group UK, Crabtree says the focus is on providing solutions that fill a gap, as well as giving firms the opportunity to ‘try before they buy’ new emerging low-emissions motoring options ranging from EVs and hybrids, to hydrogen.

What is Europcar Mobility Group’s focus this year?

At Europcar Mobility Group UK we are focusing on growth through adding value to our customers by broadening our service proposition. Our goal is to meet more of our customers’ mobility needs, from a single platform that provides control and insight for better business productivity, as well as offer the essential flexibility UK firms currently need to keep employees on the road without having to make long-term financial commitments. The current uncertainty around the economy, as as well as the Benefit-in-Kind tax regime, is making it really difficult for businesses to plan for the long-term.

How much have you found the fleet sector is changing?

There are unprecedented changes happening in the fleet sector at the moment – economical, vehicle technology and vehicle taxation. This makes putting together a fleet policy which is fit for purpose very challenging. We are promoting the flexible benefits of our products as complementary or an alternative to longer term lease deals. Fleets need more flexibility!

What’s keeping today’s fleet manager awake at night?

How can they operate a fleet efficiently during such uncertain times? Balancing cost and environmental pressures whilst keeping drivers happy has never been more difficult. In addition, we have more people opting out of company cars and taking cash. This results in the need for robust grey fleet management policies to be implemented. A multi-product solution is needed – one size no longer fits all. Fleet managers need to find solutions that help them cater for the differing needs of both their users and their organisation as a whole.

How do you see that continuing to change over the next five-ten years?

More change is inevitable and the pace of this change will increase. Electric cars will become more popular and then driverless cars will arrive. Fleet managers will become ‘mobility managers’ having to address the question – “how do we transport people when travelling on business in the most cost-effective, efficient and environmentally friendly way?” Journey optimisation tools will become the norm.

What sort of challenges and opportunities could this present?

Fleets need to adopt more flexible policies to be able to adapt to a rapidly changing marketplace. And, crucially they need their supply chain to support them in this challenge. Suppliers who are able to offer flexible solutions in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way will certainly benefit the most. Fleets need to think in terms of mobility solutions and move away from rigid fleet policies.

What would you like to see change?

We are definitely approaching a sea-change in how business travel is serviced and managed.  It would be great to see companies adopting an innovative approach, giving their drivers more options. And in this context, the government needs to be careful about how it taxes people who genuinely need a car to do their job. The current Benefit-in-Kind framework is becoming too penal. There is also the issue of more people taking cash and then choosing an older car, which will go against the focus of the government to reduce CO2 emissions. There are multiple options available to address these issues. The supply chain needs to work harder to help fleet managers understand what solutions are fit for purpose for their users and their business.

What’s in the pipeline?

Product development and innovation. Continued focus on customer service. Further development of our flexible longer term rental products for both cars and vans where we are seeing continued increasing demand.