SURVEY – Automotive expertise specialists, long-term rental companies, body builder networks and young offspring are multiplying applications to accurately quantify repair costs and make repairs if this solution proves cheaper.
As a first method of financing companies, long-term leasing wins all the votes. Expenses are known in advance and leveled over the entire duration of the contract. Furthermore, the company discharges the risk of reselling the vehicle on the used market. Finally, it retains its liquidity to invest in its business. In this idyllic landscape, restitution obscures the picture and still causes friction between renters and their clients. Vehicle owners, the financiers recover the vehicle and resell it on the second-hand market. Depending on the damage found, the repair costs are billed to the company, even if the vehicles are not repaired before being resold. Although not budgeted, these additional expenses are difficult to pass on to fleet managers and management controllers. “Despite the technological evolution, the restitution remains a delicate point of the LLD contract and will be so in the future as well”, estimates Vincent Muyllaert, general manager of Macadam France. Although SesamLLD, the professional organization that federates rental companies, has developed standards to regulate this step, unacceptable practices still exist. The additional billing sometimes seems to be excessive ”.
For professionals, the average amount of restoration costs varies within a wide range, ranging from 500 euros to 2,000 euros. However, the actual invoice paid depends on the agreements entered into between the landlord and his client and the degree of tolerance accepted by the lender. Be that as it may, obsolescence entails a further reduction in the final amount. Depending on the age and the terms of the contract, the bill can range from 1,000 euros to 560 euros.
At ALD Automotive, the return takes place step by step through digital applications. The driver takes a photo of the license plate, reports the damage, signs a release and indicates the location of the vehicle. In vehicle redelivery centers, the independent appraisal is carried out via a connected tablet on which labor rates and spare parts prices are displayed. Repair costs are billed automatically. “With our digital tools, return is less and less the subject of discussion,” observes Thomas Nérot, head of digital marketing at ALD Automotive. Digitization brings with it greater awareness and avoids most misunderstandings. “
An automotive skills specialist, Macadam offers a dedicated digital application for drivers to carry out an early inspection. Artificial intelligence guides the employee step by step and the fleet manager obtains a more or less precise report according to his needs. This tool allows you to anticipate your return, to judge the advisability of carrying out repairs and to sensitize drivers to road safety and the condition of their vehicles. “For example, 15% of returned vehicles result in billing for repair costs because their interior is dirty,” says Christophe Villain, commercial director of Macadam France. By preflighting from a specific application, the company could avoid this additional cost. With the tool and at the end of the inspection, the decision maker gets a quote and a report. Given the general conditions of the lessor and the deductibles of the insurance, this cost helps to make the most relevant decision.
Invisible vehicles for the company
The terms and conditions of the landlords leave little room for interpretation. Everything is normalized. A scratch that is so many centimeters long will be charged a specific amount set in advance. Such a degradation of the rim will cost so many euros. Nothing is left to chance to limit the risk of conflict at the time of return.
Specialist in digital tools dedicated to car inspection, WeProov develops an application to evaluate the vehicle from forty-five to sixty days before the deadline. Guided by the tool, the driver walks around the vehicle and takes photos which are then sent to the fleet manager. “80% of long-term rental vehicles are never seen by company officials before they are returned,” explains WeProov co-founder Alexandre Meyer. It’s a shame because the advance would allow repairs to be made in good time “.
With WeProov, the company is able to decide whether or not to carry out the restoration. The right decision, made at the right time, generates savings. “Thanks to our tool, the return costs increase on average from 800 euros to 500 euros excluding taxes for a private vehicle and from 1,200 euros to 950 euros for a utility vehicle”, assures Alexandre Meyer.
By listening to the different service providers, the AI would solve all the problems and reconcile the companies and rental companies in the long run. The reality is more nuanced. For some professionals, digital tools do not take into account the interior of the vehicle when many conflicts focus on this point. Another difficulty is that the gates used by some service providers and through which vehicles pass are not always configured correctly and detect too much or too little damage. Another criticism, the digital would find it difficult to differentiate the convex from the concave and would lack certain degradations. Under certain conditions, to achieve a comprehensive audit and accurate costing, human intervention remains the safest solution.
LS Services optimizes the resale of its vehicles thanks to digital technology
The energy specialist uses a dedicated application to monitor the condition of his vehicles, preserve them and sell them better.
LS Services is particularly vigilant about the brand image conveyed by its fleet. Most of the company’s 550 cars and commercial vehicles are decked out in its colors, and its managers exclude customer visits with body shops that leave something to be desired in terms of cleanliness. The protocol put in place at the beginning of 2020 provides rules on maintenance and the general condition of vehicles.
To oversee the fleet, LS Services implemented an application marketed by WeProov. Checks are carried out every three months and at the passage of vehicles from one driver to another. Photos are taken indoors and outdoors, and the tool allows you to check the sticker and green paper on the windshield. “This practice encourages drivers to take care of their vehicle, explains Jérôme Bissuel, director of the automotive division. If some damage is not taken in time, it is not recoverable. The application allows us to act faster. “
LS Services finances its leased vehicles with option to purchase (LOA). They are bought back after three years and resold to individuals, company employees or resellers. Some networks charge repair costs based on the observed damage. To help them evaluate the value of the trade-in, LS Services provides them with the reports obtained through the application. Depending on the condition of the vehicle, a discount may apply.
The digital tool is also used to identify the absence of a gray card or green card and to place an order without delay. Another function, the application turns into a prevention tool. “When we didn’t have an inventory when replacing a vehicle, we didn’t know which driver to attribute the complaints to, testifies Jérôme Bissuel. Now the drivers know that we carry out the checks. They are more alert and the experience of loss is diminished. The application costs us 3 euros per month and per vehicle. Not much, given the earnings obtained.