Fleet, our vision for the future

In the context of the ‘Week of Mobility’, we also made an appointment to see Gilberte Vereeken, General Manager of ENGIE Fleet and her colleague Eddy Van Dycke, Business Support Manager. ENGIE Fleet supports the entities within ENGIE in managing their commercial vehicles and company cars within the business, from the moment of purchase to the end of the life cycle. The daily experience with the management of over 7000 passengers and commercial vehicles allows the company to provide top-quality services to external customers in Belgium. In a short interview, she outlines the evolution of mobility in a future that may not be too far away...

Where is fleet management heading?

Nowadays, we are always talking about mobility management. There are even training courses for ‘mobility managers’ who wish to define and implement the architecture for multi-modal mobility in an industrial setting. Tomorrow, it won’t just be about fleet management; the fleet manager's mission, as adviser and logistics manager, will be much broader. The various transport options will unavoidably also impact upon HR and facility management.

In our vision, however, we are going even further! Within a few years, alongside mobility management, we will also take a more in-depth look at MaaS management. This model is already applied in Scandinavian countries, it is being copied in the Netherlands, and is knocking on the door in Belgium.

MaaS management, what is that?

Mobility as a Service! You should think of MaaS as a broad platform where you can organise your own prepaid mobility. The intention is to use various, integrated transport options via a smartphone app, which outlines and optimises the user’s journey.

A concrete example would be as follows: MaaS enables you to reserve a taxi from your home to station A. When you arrive at your destination in station B, thanks to the same app, there is a bicycle ready for you to use to reach your final destination. This journey would be optimised by the app. In other words, it will take account of your preferences in terms of time, costs, effort and so on.

But be aware that this also means that the transport methods you use no longer belong to you. The mobility-prepaid card that you have in your wallet will replace the company car which is parked in front of your door every evening. You will then choose your mobility mix on a daily basis!


Is this model not a bit... utopian?

Absolutely not. Social changes are inching us closer all the time. Today, we are realising that new generations are less tied to material ownership, particularly when it comes to mobility; they take their driving tests later, they don’t necessarily want to own a car, they're happy to be transported, and they use alternative transport methods much more readily. In short, more and more people are wondering whether they need to invest in their own transport at all.

The best example can be found in developments relating to festival car parks. It was decided that the space for parking would be reduced by 30% in order to free up room for bicycle storage and that agreements would be made with public transport, etc.
All of this clearly demonstrates that this is not a utopian ideal but a genuine trend.

Is it a model that can be applied to businesses?

MaaS will certainly apply to businesses too. It will involve the big players, like Google or Microsoft. They will be able to create their own Company MaaS.

A business such as ENGIE will also feel the impact. That is why, even if all this lies in the future, ENGIE Fleet is paying more and more attention to the way this will change us from fleet managers into ‘company MaaS managers’. ENGIE already has a range of resources at its disposal; shared vehicles, a car-pool platform, company cars, service vehicles, bicycle and lorry parks, and so on. This will all have to be managed within Mobility as a Service.

The fact that ENGIE Fleet has a long term vision means that we are not limited in the decisions that we are taking today, with tomorrow in mind.

Are conditions attached to implementing MaaS in Belgium and Belgian companies?

Yes, there is undoubtedly a need for strong, political policies which frame decision-making in terms of implementing MaaS. For example, a model such as MaaS could mean that you can park your vehicle wherever you like in the street, not just in car parks. At the moment, however, Belgian cities and municipalities all have different parking rules; some allow free parking, without worrying about a fine, while others do not. We must be able to conclude agreements on both a national and local level.

Another condition relates to protecting our private lives. MaaS cannot work unless we accept that our movements and journeys are monitored. We must therefore discuss ‘privacy’ in relation to our own mobility.