Romania is closing in on its 6th month of pandemic restrictions and things are tending to look grimmer, as the number of cases is growing day by day. This period reminds us of 2008 and the decisions that had to make back then, but, as some of the lock-down measures have been eased, we are restarting our engines.
And since we mentioned engines, we had an open talk with Shane Dowling, the CEO of ALD Automotive Romania, about why he believes the economy needs mobility to restart itself.
Mr. Dowling, how does the economy look from your point of view?
Shane Dowling: Well, I think it’s like when you’ve just obtained your driving license, so you tend to push the acceleration more carefully and the car gets up to speed in a longer time. But you get there, eventually. Similarly, we are now pushing the acceleration pedal of the economy, but we still have some distance to cover to reach our destination. And this is normal, it’s been hard for most of the industries to cope in this period, going from full activity to a near standstill in some cases. But it’s a new day, a new normal, and a new economy to understand.
Where does the mobility come in this equation?
Shane Dowling: It’s everywhere! Although during the lockdown more and more companies applied either work-from-home or already had established teleworking systems, employees have now begun to steadily return to their offices. This translates into a growing need for mobility solutions, as the reluctance in using public transport remains high. Thus, they may expect their employers to provide them with a safe environment for working, but also conditions appropriate to the new reality of transport. What does that mean for ALD Automotive? Providing flexible, short-term mobility solutions, as the companies are willing to access and provide them for their employees. Considering the economical incertitude, these products are a safe choice, especially for SMEs, as Managers are still hesitating on long term commitment.
So, you are saying all the companies should lease new cars?
Shane Dowling: I would not mind. We have been continuously talking with ALD Automotive’s partners and clients and we see that they are all focusing on providing safe mobility alternatives for their employees. For example, some of them are considering, even if just for a limited period, helping employees avoid public transport and maintaining physical distancing. Other companies are taking a larger step and are offering company cars to employees who were not benefitting from such a privilege until now. Some may say it’s too much, but the wellbeing of the people that keep your business running should be primary during this period. After all, we are all parts of a running motor.
A forecast for the remaining months of 2020 in the operational leasing industry?
Shane Dowling: I believe that mobility will remain a trending topic for the upcoming period, because, as negative as it has been for most industries, the pandemic has also paved the way for many opportunities, especially in the sectors where growth already existed, but not at such a high level: for example, e-commerce, couriers, food delivery etc. All these industries require increased mobility, as to be able to swiftly answer to the new economy, one that is based on remote services, quality and equally important, one that provides a feeling of safety to the clients.
In this regard, full-service operational leasing products can prove instrumental for answering the new operational needs specific to a remote economy. At the same time, shorter, more flexible, mobility solutions should be considered, and we are prepared to provide our clients tailored products, that suit their exact needs, for the required period of time.