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Jim Halliday, Element Fleet Management: 'Our results tell us we are right'

It has been an exciting 2016 for Element Fleet Management Corp. With global alliance partner Arval, Element set up new partnerships in Latin America. And at the end of last year, it acquired safety management specialist CEI Group. No wonder that Jim Halliday, President & CEO International for Element Fleet Management, is a happy man.

“We had an excellent year. Across North America, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand we now operate more than one million vehicles. Interestingly, our global partner Arval also reached their one-million vehicle mark last year too!
Element recently acquired accident and safety leader CEI Group, which will help deliver innovative risk and safety solutions that are extremely important to customers,” says Jim Halliday.  
 
Element’s acquisitions of PHH in 2014 and of GE Capital in 2015 gave the company the scale to invest in transforming fleet management – investments that should benefit the company’s customers globally.
 
So what are your main goals for this year?
Rollout out new technology and continue joint efforts with our global partner Arval are key focuses for this year. Internationalisation and globalisation are important pillars for us. We’ve got folks from Element at Arval HQ in Paris, France. They in turn sent people to sit with us in the U.S. This is how we stimulate true global partnership, regional excellence and quality in global fleet management. We have also expanded the Element International Business Office in Sparks, to over a dozen people involved in supporting initiatives that improve customer experience on a global scale."
“This year, we also want to focus on beefing up our Latin American position. The Element-Arval Global Alliance is currently present in seven countries across the region.  We recently added countries via Arval’s joint venture with Relsa in Chile and Peru and added Argentina and Uruguay through partnership with RDA Renting.With our knowledge and leadership in North America and Mexico, we can play a substantial role in this promising region. We recently added a VP of LATAM sales to help support these efforts and improve the client journey. Central America is also popping up on the radar of some of our clients.”
“And geographically, we also are keeping a good eye on Asia. Asia is obviously of interest: growing markets with increasing fleet presence equals growing demand for our business”.

Doesn't quality of service suffer if for certain markets you work with partners instead of being present yourself?
“Actually, it's the opposite. Our expansions are based on a basket of indicators: market opportunity, complexity and maturity; growth forecast; economic and legislative stability; and client demand. If we feel a market is crucial to us, but also immature, volatile or complex, we prefer a strong local partner who knows the market. In my experience, this creates results faster and leads to higher customer satisfaction than trying to go it alone. Our excellent international results and growing customer satisfaction tell us we're right”.
 
What was the thinking behind your acquisition of CEI Group?
“Safety and driver behaviour are hugely important to fleets, and therefore also to us. Safety is an area that should be defined and planned globally. Acquiring CEI Group means we can further optimise our safety management offering, and even support our clients globally in risk and safety programmes via the Global Fleet Safety Alliance, in which CEI Group partners with CEPA in Latin America and VVCR International in Europe. Our own accident management, risk and safety teams will be merged into CEI Group by 2018”.
 
Which major trends do you see reshaping fleet management today?
“I see three trends. The first one is Big Data and connectivity. Real-time data management and extracting scalable, customer-profiled actions from Big Data – that is the challenge facing every international fleet player. Xcelerate will put us at the head of the pack. It combines ordering, reporting and analysis, with the goal of translating data insights into action. Xcelerate will allow us to enhance fleet management through vehicle connectivity”.
“Secondly – also linked to connectivity – is the autonomous vehicle. These cars will also need to be financed, managed and serviced. So that's a new business opportunity. Plus, self-driving vehicles will generate additional services and data, increasing safety and efficiency”.
“Lastly: integrated and alternative mobility, with solutions that include car-sharing, mobility budgets and multimodal transport. Stuff like this is currently limited to Europe and some global megacities. But it will only grow, so we are watching it closely. We have a dedicated team that identifies and invests in start-ups with disruptive technologies. We expect these collaborations to bear fruit and deliver new services for our clients in the future. The appeal today would be limited for commercial fleets: roughly 80% of our current North American fleet is made up of trucks and service vehicles”.
 
Finally, name one fact that we don’t know yet about your company and that will positively surprise us?
“Let’s answer with some nice numbers. We have over 150 customers that have been with what is today Element for more than 50 years, which is really great and underlines the excellent partnerships that are possible in our industry.
 
Looking globally, we’re proud of the fact that we have more than  a dozen nationalities represented in Element-Arval’s International Business Offices. This means that we have the cultural diversity of a team with global geographic scope.” 22/03/2017  |  Steven Schoefs

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