Carsharing, feedback from Calvados

Today, we’re covering a particularly interesting topic: the results of carsharing for a local authority that has opted for the carsharing solution offered by OPENFLEET.

Almost a year ago, the Département du Calvados decided to use this solution to equip its fleet of vehicles. After a year of use, it’s time to take stock of the results and lessons learned.

We had the opportunity to interview Cédric Le Floch, Director of Public Purchasing for Calvados, to get his views on the advantages, benefits and challenges of the car-sharing project.

We invite you to discover the interview, as well as our testimonial on the benefits of our carsharing solution for fleet managers.

It’s time to take stock and learn from experience.

Our interview with Cédric Le Floch, Director of Public Purchasing at the Département du Calvados.

What were your initial reasons for choosing carsharing?

CLF: The Calvados département was determined to rethink mobility and usage, with the aim of decarbonizing its vehicle fleet. We also had a logistical constraint linked to the absence of physical reception desks in some of our buildings, and the desire to position our agents on higher value-added tasks. So we had the problem of managing the physical keys to the vehicles. We had initially tested key box solutions, but these only partially met our needs, as we wanted to manage shared mobility and have more detailed control over our fleet.

How did you find OpenFleet and why did you choose it?

CLF: We were in contact with a competitor, but we weren’t convinced by the proposed solution. What’s more, the cost of entry to configure the tool and platform before you could even use it was far too high. When we approached OpenFleet, we were very attracted by the team’s agility and availability, as well as by the possibility of testing the solution on some of our vehicles first. This preliminary test enabled us to confirm the robustness of the solution and its positive impact on our operations. At this point, we organized a call for tenders, involving all the players. We chose the OpenFleet solution because it submitted the best offer.

How many cars do you car-share?

CLF: Eventually, we’ll have 160 vehicles for 1,100 agents at 18 sites, i.e. a ratio of almost 16 agents per vehicle.

Switching to carsharing involves a real change management process. How did you go about it?

CLF: I believe that managing the transition to carsharing is the key to success. And that’s clearly been one of OpenFleet’s strong points: there’s teaching material, the solution is easy and intuitive, and the customer service and hotline are very responsive and supportive. Because, although it’s simple, for the first two months, the agents needed to be accompanied and monitored. It’s important not to neglect this support at the outset, because the reality is that even if you have video and written support, agents don’t necessarily look at it. On the strength of this initial experience, we decided to make waves of support. We work in groups of 20 agents, explaining the car-sharing solution and giving them access to the platform. The training lasts 1 hour, during which we put them in front of a vehicle and explain to them how to reserve and open it, as well as vehicle safety and protection devices to prevent them from putting too much strain on the fleet manager.

Have you been able to measure the impact of OpenFleet’s car-sharing solution?

CLF: Firstly, we have a better understanding of usage. This allows us to be more relevant in our fleet management assessment. This enables us to readjust the fleet and the type of vehicle made available. We are not yet at the stage of fleet reduction. That’s when we’ll be able to see the direct improvement on the balance sheet. On the other hand, we have already measured a real gain in the number of agents managing the fleet and car keys, on the order of 4 full-time positions. There is also the question of compliance with the new SPASER*1 law, which concerns all local authorities and includes a car-sharing and mobility component. This may also explain the current enthusiasm among local authorities.

(1) SPASER – Schéma de Promotion des Achats Publics Socialement et Écologiquement Responsables – is compulsory for local authorities with annual purchases in excess of 100 million euros. This obligation, defined in Article L.2111-3 of the Public Order Code, has been extended by the Climate and Resilience Act of August 22, 2021, which aims to strengthen the transparency of SPASERs and specify their content. SPASERs make it possible to publicize local authorities’ commitments and orientations in terms of responsible purchasing.

Were you able to measure user satisfaction?

CLF: After each use, we ask our users to rate their satisfaction from 1 to 5. Today, the average is over 4. So we’re on a very high level of satisfaction. As far as fleet managers are concerned, after some initial difficulties due not to the solution, but to our own parking infrastructure, they are now very satisfied with the richness of the solution and the fact that they know at all times who has used the vehicle, for how long, etc., and this really simplifies the management of parking tickets.

Do you plan to use your employees for private purposes?

CLF: We’ve asked ourselves the question, but the subject is premature, as it would involve a certain amount of management in the accounting and finance departments, which don’t necessarily have the time for it today. And there’s also a more cultural aspect: some services are flexible on the use of vehicles for private purposes, and a certain balance needs to be maintained between this flexibility and regulation. The French Orientation Law on Mobility requires the gradual conversion of fleets to electric vehicles. The charging constraint will make fleet management more complex, since recharging times and vehicle autonomy will have to be factored into planning. To meet these management challenges, OpenFleet has developed functions for controlling autonomy and automatically reassigning reservations.

For your part, how are you approaching the switch to electric vehicles in your fleet?

CLF: We’re going to run into this problem because we currently renew 10 to 20 vehicles a year, and to date 100% of renewals are electric. But we’ve come a long way and we’ve still got a little time ahead of us. At the moment, what’s holding back deployment is the location of charging stations and the transformation of simple parking spaces into electric ones. These are more building constraints. But of course, this precise feedback on the vehicle’s state of charge will reassure agents and encourage the switchover.

What is your overall assessment of your collaboration with the OpenFleet teams in the various aspects of the project: technology, installation, support?

CLF: We’re very satisfied with our collaboration with OpenFleet. As with any project, we encountered difficulties, but it’s in managing these that you can tell a good partner from a bad one. Whenever we’ve encountered problems, OpenFleet has always been present and responsive, and we really appreciate that. We’re listening, we’re talking, and we’ve come up with a good, flexible solution that adapts to our specific needs.

Why would you recommend OpenFleet to a fleet manager?

CLF: You have to distinguish between public and private stock. I can only speak for public fleet managers: firstly, OpenFleet has experience with local authorities, which isn’t often the case. The technology is reliable and solid. It offers true data governance, modern fleet management and near-self-service agent use. And last but not least, the team is responsive and available, with highly operational know-how and effective support for change management.