April 15, 2024
Erwin Mattes © Denzel

| Tobias Seifried

| 07/13/2023

Erwin Mattes, Head of Corporates – Sales & After Sales at Denzel, shows in LEADERNET-Interview on how many national fleets are already switching to electric mobility, what needs to be considered in long-distance journeys with electric cars, why combustion engines are far from dead, what modern car data collection is like and why it’s currently a big plus, having 21 different car brands in the portfolio.

A lot has happened in the domestic vehicle fleets in recent years. Here, too, the trend is clearly towards electromobility. In addition to political incentives and positive effects on own image, ESG requirements are also responsible for this. However, we are still a long way from all national companies converting their fleets to purely electric cars. LEADERNET he wanted to know more precisely how current developments are actually developing and therefore asked an expert from Wolfgang Denzel Auto AG, which has more than 1,000 corporate customers.

LEADERNET: Dear Mr. Mattes, How much impact is this already having on the demand for electric cars?

Erwin Matte: For large companies with corresponding CO2objectives, it is possible to identify a clear strategy towards electric mobility. Here, when buying a new vehicle, the focus is already completely on electric vehicles, related to the specifics of when existing company cars should be converted. In the case of SMEs, this orientation is not so clear and there is still a wide range of acceptance regarding electromobility – from reservations to a clear e-strategy. However, a trend towards alternative technologies is clearly recognizable, which is why we have electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid up to hydrogen in our portfolio. With our 21 brands, we ensure that we can offer the right kind of riding depending on your profile and riding purpose. So petrol and diesel are still interesting and in our range.

LEADERNET: Many companies have set themselves the goal of fully converting their fleets to electric cars. How many of your customers have already done this?

Matte: Only a handful of companies. These are mainly active in the “renewable energies” sector and opted for electric mobility very early on. If a customer decides in favor of pure electric mobility for future purchases, there is still a corresponding delivery time – based on the average shelf life of a company vehicle of five years – until the complete conversion. Even with a clear e-strategy, companies can take a while to convert 100%.

LEADERNET: Companies that have large numbers of field workers who (have to) travel tens of thousands of miles a year will likely continue to rely on diesel vehicles for a longer period of time. This type of drive is still unbeatable in terms of range, efficiency and economy. In your opinion, how long before there are electric cars capable of covering a range of around 1,000 kilometers even when driving faster?

Matte: There are actually private customers who use electric vehicles even for high mileage. In large parts of Austria it is entirely possible to drive long distances with electric cars, but this requires planning for recharging. In addition to the personal conviction of wanting to act more climate-friendly, the advantage in nature is often a strong driver for the decision to opt for electromobility. As for the ranges, in recent years we have seen rapid development and great dynamism among manufacturers. There’s a lot going on there. But it will certainly take some time before a range of 1,000 kilometers can be covered at a reasonable cost.

LEADERNET: Now a question that does not only concern electric cars. Current vehicles are now high-tech devices on wheels that also collect large amounts of data. What opportunities, but also dangers and challenges lie in electronic data processing? And how can employers and automakers adjust to this?

Matte: The opportunities are clearly visible in the areas of safety and convenience.

An example from the field of safety: development is also moving in the direction of the IoT (Internet of Things) in cars, with which a (networked) vehicle ahead can recognize ice and warn the vehicle behind of this danger. As far as comfort is concerned, a vehicle can automatically switch to recirculated air when passing through a tunnel, which increases well-being.

From an ethical point of view, this of course also creates challenges, because who owns the (collected) data? The producer? The client? The driver? The owner of the car (leasing company)? In addition to the question of ownership, use still needs to be regulated. When using on-site telematics systems, i.e. mileage tracking up to operational logistics, this should be specifically defined in the agreements between the company and the drivers.

Until a regulation that fits all parties is found, both producers and employers must strike a balance between moral and operational interests.

LEADERNET: Finally, a more general question: How satisfied is Wolfgang Denzel Auto AG with the financial year so far and what is next? Is the order book full and demand is high, or do you notice a certain reluctance to buy due to various crises that are affecting many companies?

Matte: In the retail sector, we are seeing strong business performance despite the challenging economic environment. This is also due to the fact that we are very well positioned indeed with our broad brand portfolio of 21 automotive brands. We have the right car for every need and every budget, so customers will always find what they’re looking for.

Especially in the corporate customer area, we believe that it is becoming increasingly important to have a stable consulting partner for mobility and infrastructure issues. This also has to do with the complexity of the variety of drive models and systems (from diesel and petrol engines to hybrid variants and electric mobility) and the changing needs of companies and employees. The well-founded customer advisory service is particularly important to us and is also in great demand at the various locations in Austria.

We are currently seeing an improvement in the delivery capability of OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), especially with electric vehicles, which has positively or will positively influence one or the other purchasing decision over the course of the year.

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