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“Cities are ‘saturated’, and companies will need to be able to find ways to commute for their employees,” says SIVA's fleet manager.

“Cities are ‘saturated’, and companies will need to be able to find ways to commute for their employees,” says SIVA's fleet manager.

Fleets play a central role in a variety of business sectors, from logistics to delivery services. These are the vehicles that transport products to customers, and the transportation teams to perform services and keep the supply chain moving. As such, the efficiency and effectiveness of fleet management has a direct impact on the ability to meet deadlines, ensure customer satisfaction and maintain profitability.

In an interview with Executive Digest magazine, Miguel Moreira Branco, Fleet Director at SIVA, which represents well-known brands such as Volkswagen, Seat, Skoda, Cupra and others, explains the importance of effective fleet management and what the trends are in Portugal and around the world. world .

Miguel Moreira Branco started out working in dealerships, and during his career he worked for companies such as Ford Lusitania and Mitsubishi, until in 2016 he joined SIVA.

What is your opinion on the current trends in the car fleet market in Portugal and globally?

The fleet sector in Portugal has, for several years now, been the most represented sales channel and tends to grow. In my view, this is mainly due to our taxes, as it is always better for companies to include a car in the salary package rather than financial compensation.

On the other hand, for the majority of Portuguese people, culturally, a car is considered an object of great importance and is considered a great, if not the biggest, benefit that a company can attribute to its employees.

Within this framework, the fleet market will always have great importance in our country. However, I think the business model is changing: mobility is becoming increasingly important, at the expense of car “ownership”. Many models have been tested, and in some we have found real potential for growth in this sense.

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Globally, and especially in Europe, the current challenges in this sector are enormous. We live in a time where speed/adaptability is crucial. We are strongly threatened by products coming from China, where their competitiveness is much higher, and a large part of this competitiveness comes from the ability to respond/adapt to market and consumer needs. We in Europe are very concerned and invest a lot of time and resources in regulation. It ends with data protection, compliance and automotive business development.

What are the biggest challenges facing fleet managers today and what strategies are adopted to address them?

Right off the bat, the main challenge facing any fleet manager will be the ability to continue purchasing similar vehicles at similar costs (which doesn't exist!). Most construction companies have had to increase the prices of their products due to the increase in raw materials/distribution.

On the other hand, financial costs have risen significantly recently, which greatly affects our operations, since the majority of fleets are acquired through financing.

All of these factors leave any fleet manager in a difficult position.

There are also other factors that could mitigate these threats, such as the entry of electric vehicles, with all the tax advantages this represents for the company, or short-term mobility solutions that are starting to become quite relevant in the operations of most companies. . .

What are the key considerations businesses should make when choosing between owning their own fleet, leasing, or other fleet management options?

This will be one of the more complex analyzes/decisions to determine. Either option has advantages and disadvantages, always starting with the type of use you intend to give the fleet.

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When a company uses a very dense fleet, a leasing option is unlikely to be viable (as is the case with mining companies). On the other hand, when usage is low occupancy, a financing option may make sense.

Another factor that is more important today is the financial cost: if a company has “treasury capacity,” it makes sense to evaluate the financial cost of using its own capital versus external financing. Above all, it will always depend on the needs involved and the resources available.

How is Seva adapting its strategy to deal with changes in government regulations and environmental policies?

SIVA|PHS, like most multinational companies, assumes a very high sense of responsibility towards the policies and regulations of the countries in which we are present.

Since 2019, we have ceased to be a national company. Today, our sustainability policies and internal rules ensure that we always follow a strategy that is consistent with current standards. Often times, we have difficulty applying strategies that may be completely feasible from a trading point of view, but are, for whatever reason, outside our rules.

Let's say this is the challenge: the ability to find measures and solutions that can be implemented within company guidelines.

How do companies address the issue of driver safety and reducing accidents in fleets?

Unfortunately, not all companies have this concern and sense of responsibility. However, we have also assisted companies that currently offer customized training to vehicle users, in order to improve their safe and efficient driving skills. With the shift to electric vehicles, we have noticed that there is often concern about “teaching” users how to properly drive these new vehicles. To achieve this, we have created specific training that we typically provide to companies with fleets of electric vehicles.

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How do you see the future of corporate mobility and vehicle fleets in the coming years, taking into account technological, regulatory and social changes?

As I mentioned previously, we are living through difficult times in this sector. I feel there is a huge paradigm shift already taking place in this sector. I believe that within a few years the majority of our sales will be allocated to mobility companies, electric vehicles will be the main mode of transportation, and autonomous driving will be the biggest game changer in the entire “revolution.”

However, especially in Western markets, we will have to change our business and ground rules significantly. For example, we cannot continue to “halt” the development of autonomous vehicles because we are unable to regulate the responsibilities of insurance companies. Socially, new generations place a completely different value on cars compared to older generations. We will have to change the way we communicate and promote our products. Cities are “saturated,” so companies have to be able to find ways to get their employees around, which probably doesn’t involve including cars in the payroll. Above all, I believe we are fortunate to live in these times and to be able to be part of this revolutionary transformation.