Miel Horsten (ALD Automotive): “The industry has good years ahead … if it adapts”

Third part of the study conducted by the editorial staff of FLEET.be on the evolution of automobile sales by 2030, with Miel Horsten. He managed ALD Automotive Belgium for eight years. And since the start of last year, he has held an international position as Group Regional Director ALD Automotive. Miel Horsten is the ideal person to give his vision of the Belgian and international markets and the trends he perceives.

How is the Belgian market behaving in the face of electrification?

MH : “Since the summer of 2020, we have seen a sharp acceleration in the greening of the Belgian vehicle fleet due to the growing popularity of hybrid and electric vehicles. At ALD, we believe this trend will continue. The proof: in the first half of 2021, EVs and hybrids represented nearly 40% of registrations at ALD. Pure EVs are still a bit delayed due to late delivery of some vehicles, but I expect the number of EVs in the fleet to triple in 2021. The industry has some very good and exciting years ahead. … At least those who can and want to adapt to a new world. “

And what are your expectations for the years to come?

MH : “The trend towards electrification will continue in the future for a number of reasons. The model range of major manufacturers continues to expand rapidly and the infrastructure for EVs is improving very quickly. Almost all fleet managers have changed their minds on TCO and are looking at managing their fleet in a more rational way, generally in favor of green cars. Which also plays a role: Corporate social responsibility is no longer an obligation for companies or a marketing stunt, but has become an essential activity. Without a well-thought-out CSR policy, customers and talented young employees are simply left out. This is also reflected in the management of the fleet. “

How do you see the switch to electric that more and more manufacturers are making?

MH : “We have seen in recent months that some of the major manufacturers, who were still skeptical about electrification in recent years, have now fully embraced this new technology. From an industrial point of view, it is also not financially possible for manufacturers to bet on two horses at the same time. Internal combustion engine vehicles and electric vehicles are conceptually totally different. Organizing two R&D departments and two parallel production lines is simply not financially feasible. Manufacturers will therefore focus on EVs. Vehicles with internal combustion engines will gradually disappear. “

Company cars are invariably seen as a way to accelerate greening. What are the opportunities for the leasing sector?

MH : “In terms of vehicle sales, I believe in a slight increase in Belgium linked to a larger share of leased vehicles. Let us not forget that the average age of the Belgian and European car fleet is around 10.5 years. Due to the rapid evolution of in-vehicle technology and the greening of new cars, vehicles manufactured before 2012 are suddenly radically obsolete, polluting and unsafe. I therefore expect a positive development in the sales of new vehicles, associated with an even greater success of leasing as a method of financing. I see a number of important growth segments for the industry in the coming years. I expect leasing to be increasingly successful in the SME segment. The popularity of private leasing and cafeteria plans (B2B2C) is expected to grow further in the coming years. Finally, “last mile delivery” has become a key segment and one of the fastest growing markets. I think E-LCVs are going to play a crucial role in this segment. “

The taxation of company cars is an important factor in greening. How do we position ourselves in Belgium compared to other countries?

MH : “In Belgium, we have been fighting for years for a form of legal certainty in matters of taxation. I think we’ve gotten it in recent years, although it’s relative. But when I compare the situation in Belgium with that of other countries, there is now a five-year vision in the field of taxation. Belgium has taken a big step forward and is now an example at the international level. In the Netherlands and Scandinavia I still see big annual changes and growing uncertainty. So let’s not bitch too much and face the future with confidence. “

The second-hand market will also be different in the years to come. What is your vision?

MH : “It is precisely in the field of used vehicles that I expect the greatest revolution. Let us not forget that this market is much larger than that of new vehicles. You can already observe this revolution if you look at large companies like Auto1, Kazoo or Reezocar on the international scene, or small local players like Falcomotive. Today, the used car market is characterized by a fragmented landscape, with more than 200,000 points of sale in Europe, whose experience and image with customers are too often poor. This transformation will be accelerated by a growing demand for young and environmentally friendly used cars from the B2B and B2C segments. Last but not least, we find that most manufacturers are moving to an agency model. This will put additional pressure on the profitability of dealerships, who will focus more on selling used vehicles to make up for the loss in profitability. Second-hand leasing, both for businesses and individuals, will become very popular. “

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