Helen Lees: ‘Simplicity of EV tech further boosts shared mobility’

by Rachel Burgess, Autocar UK 30 Oct 2019

The Peugeot e-208 is now on sale in the UK

The rise of electric vehicles threatens the car industry as we know it, according to PSA Group electric and connected boss Helen Lees.

“EVs are far simpler [than internal combustion-engined vehicles]," she explained. "They need less parts, less time in the workshop. Ultimately, it means less time in aftersales. That’s why we’ve chosen to diversify into areas such as shared mobility.”

PSA, which owns the Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Opel and Vauxhall brands, already offers its Free2Move car-sharing service in Paris, France, where 550 of its vehicles are available via a smartphone app.

Lees, talking at today's Auto Futures event, said: “We haven’t commercialised a lot of [mobility services] in the UK, but we will do, such as Free2Move, which encompasses anything complementary to car ownership or substitutes such as leasing or rental, but also our use of telematics and technology to enable peer-to-peer car-sharing. On our new vehicles, you can get a digital key so you can assign the car to others remotely.”

Lees added that despite the inevitable decline in aftersales revenue in the short-term, the increasing sales of EVs does bring opportunity.

“Whereas a lot of consumers might service their petrol or diesel cars themselves," she said, "they tend to come back into main dealerships for EVs because the aftermarket operators aren’t necessarily ready for electric to the same extent as manufacturers are.

“We’ve got a short-term opportunity for aftersales where hopefully we can build loyalty and prove ourselves and break some of the myths about being ripped off by mainstream manufacturers.”

Lees said the loss of revenue in aftersales depends on EV market penetration, adding: “Longer-term, we'll sell fewer parts and fewer service hours on our EVs. When you look at the service plan pricing for Peugeot e-208, for example, it’s a third cheaper than the service plan for the equivalent petrol or diesel 208.

"Obviously, that helps build the total cost of ownership model at the moment, but longer-term, maybe our dealerships will become mobility hubs where there's dealership-based rental.”

Lees added that PSA will next year launch a package that will allow leasing customers to rent a petrol or diesel car as part of their EV finance package.

Customer deliveries of the e-208 will commence early next year, and there will be an electrified variant of every PSA model by 2025.