Nick Vervaeck is one of the newest members of our ever-growing team of mobility experts. With a passion for alternative mobility options and international sustainability issues, we’re confident that his insights and knowledge will prove to be of great value to our company and customers.
Earlier this month, we sat down with Nick to discuss his experience in the sector, why he chose XXlmo and where he sees the future of mobility heading, both in Belgium and globally.
Thanks for having me! Sure - I started 3 months ago as Sales Manager for Belgium. Our primary goal has been to expand our client base in Belgium, with a specific focus on the mobility of the bigger companies in the country.
While The Netherlands and Belgium are right beside each other geographically, mobility is a different story in The Netherlands. The Dutch are much more likely to use public transport or look for alternative methods of transportation. In Belgium, the company car is much more a rule than it is an exception. In my new role at XXImo, it’s my task to conduct thorough research into the Belgian business landscape, focusing specifically on the mobility of the fleet and drivers, as well as other employees. So far, so good!
Before I joined XXImo, I worked as an account manager for a leasing company called Arval. Thanks to this experience, I have a background in the leasing and mobility sector, which greatly informs my work with XXlmo. About 5 years ago, it became clear to me that the transformation towards a more ecological fleet, and the upcoming development and popularity of plug-in hybrids, had started.
As of July 2023 in Belgium, the financial viability of normal fuel cars has degraded. Companies are being encouraged to move towards a zero-carbon fleet. That’s the current situation, and my experience provides a strong foundation for me to understand what is going on now and how that impacts mobility needs of the future. The significant difference is that five years ago, there were plug-in hybrids, in which you could both recharge and refuel. Now, and in the future, we must focus on the electrification of the entire fleet and move towards zero carbon emissions as a result.
With all these changes in mind, the fleet manager role has developed significantly over the years. It’s not just a focus on company cars but on the entire mobility of a company. My experience gives me a greater grasp of how fleet managers are thinking now and in the future.
Well, firstly, I chose XXlmo because it’s an incredibly dynamic company, whose customers are equally dynamic in their mobility needs for today and tomorrow. XXlmo operates on a highly secure and widespread network, and it prepares its customers for the mobility of the future without the need to radically change their mobility policy. This foundational infrastructure is key to our success.
With all that said, the biggest reason to join XXlmo is that it is working towards a greener future alongside society and government. Without collaboration on all levels, the fight for sustainability is doomed.
After this federal mobility budget came into effect, everybody who is entitled to a company car has the option to reduce the size of their vehicle and use the residual amount for alternative mobility. This alternative must be sustainable, but it can be used for both national and international travelling. So, it could be used for a train, a bike lease or even renting a car on holiday. After that, the residual amount will be paid at taxation of 38%, instead of the regular 50% or more. At the end of the year, you receive the residual amount, but during that time you can use this money on alternative forms of sustainable mobility.
This type of legislation is especially important in Belgium. As opposed to many other European countries, in Belgium having a company car is the rule and not the exception. As an example, there are many two-income households where both partners are entitled to a company car and, given that a second family car is losing popularity, tax concessions are increasingly being considered.
Since the revision of the Belgian legislation on the tax deductibility of company cars, companies have been encouraged to move towards a zero-carbon fleet. However, with the long waiting time for new cars, I expect the electrification of the fleet will be a gradual process for companies. Fleet managers are already looking for a fuel card that allows their drivers to both refuel and recharge without being dependent on one specific supplier to do so. That’s where we come in. You can use a XXlmo card to do everything everywhere, which appeals to the fleet managers that need a solution now but also want to be prepared for the changes that are brought on by fleet electrification.
This preparedness for an electric fleet will also ensure that the driver who uses a fuel car today will be able to recharge their new electric car tomorrow. With a XXlmo mobility card, that is absolutely no problem. Unlike a regular fuel card, drivers can both refuel and recharge with a mobility card by XXImo, and fleet managers have the ability to manage access to the services on the mobility cards in their fleet in real-time.
So that’s a little about where we’re at today, but we have to ask ourselves some important questions. For instance, how do we offer a service to our customers that continues to make their commute to work easy, using fuel, hybrids and electric cars?
XXlmo already has the solution. A driver who receives a new company vehicle which happens to be electric, doesn't have to wait for his fuel card to be replaced by a charging card to be able to recharge their new vehicle. Another example, if an employee's electric car was being repaired and a fuel car was temporarily sent out as a replacement, a XXlmo card would make this process entirely uncomplicated. The driver simply uses his mobility card for everything, even when their needs or vehicle changes. This makes the transition to a zero-carbon fleet entirely fluid, fuss-free and, ultimately, more likely.
In The Netherlands, companies will be required to submit a CO2 report from 2024. For Belgium, this will become mandatory a little later in the decade. For me, this was just another great reason to join XXlmo. XXlmo has already generated a powerful foundation for companies looking to achieve a strong competitive edge when this legislation passes in Belgium. In short, we’re ahead of the pack.
On a national level, Belgium is particularly unique when it comes to its company car culture. It will take a few years before public transport and mobility sharing are more convenient than owning a personal car. However, when discussing these topics with my Dutch colleagues, in just a few years, it has already become more popular to use these alternative methods of travel in The Netherlands.
Another key point is location. I have a young child myself, and I cannot imagine not owning a car. But for younger people and those who live in cities without small children it’s more popular to use alternative methods of transport. Young adults tend to be more flexible and aren't as keen to own a driver’s licence, which will be a big driving force for change in the mobility sector going forward.
Belgium will inevitably develop a much stronger public transport infrastructure, but, in my opinion, this is some way off. Our country is divided into two halves, the Walloon half and the Flemish half. In the Walloon half, there is practically zero public transport infrastructure. It will develop, first in the cities and then in the more rural areas, but at a slower speed than the rest of Europe.
The European Union should be pushing for these infrastructure changes, but it is currently acting more as a financial institution.
In my view, when it comes to climate change, speaking as one European nation is crucial. I say this because we have no other choice but to act, and that’s never been more clear after the weather we have experienced this summer. I saw that some EU politicians did an excellent job speaking on this issue recently, but we need more EU and national politicians speaking not just as a singular European voice, but as an international one as well. We have to deal with the current climate situation, and the use of mobility plays a huge part in that.
If there are more companies like XXlmo, it will help the people and politicians see that a truly sustainable future is a realistic possibility. XXImo is proof that choosing to travel sustainably does not have to come at the cost of comfort and convenience. With innovative technologies available today, which XXImo has integrated into its mobility platform, you can seamlessly switch from one mode of transport to another. For employers and fleet managers, it also eliminates complexity in the management and administration of their mobility.
In the longer term, choosing sustainable travel options and making them easily accessible to the masses will result in a better society for everybody. When people rethink mobility, they become more open to alternative options in other areas of our infrastructure. It will take time, but even in Belgium, there are more and more companies that are focused on sustainability and mobility issues like XXlmo.
Thanks, Nick! We can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.