A subsidiary of the Picoty group, Somelac is not just a vehicle rental company under the Hertz franchise. The company, which covers a dozen departments in the west of France, offers original formulas to discover electric mobility.
“Somelac is an SME whose head office is based in Chasseneuil-du-Poitou, near Poitiers. Through the Hertz brand, which gives us a certain reputation, we offer 1,800 vehicles, from private cars to utility vehicles, for short or long-term rental, for professional or leisure activities. Being an independent franchisee gives us complete freedom in the choice of the models we present, ”says Cyril Lubin, Director of Operations at Somelac.
“Widely present in the fields of mobility, the company also specializes in the sale of recent used vehicles, mobility advice, and support for companies in their search for a better TCO [NDLR Coût total de possession] He continues.
“Somelac shines in particular in the areas of Le Mans, Laval, Blois, Poitiers, Tours, Niort, La Rochelle, Angoulême, Limoges and Brive”, he explains.
Shift to EV in 2016
“Long before the current government measures, and well before the other rental companies, we initiated a first shift towards electric power in 2016. In June of that year, we began to offer Peugeot iOn for rental”, remembers Cyril Lubin.
“This approach was already in line with the values of the company which are: listening to customers, reducing our environmental footprint and that of our customers, and a great openness to innovation”, list t -he.
“In order to reduce our carbon emissions, we only keep passenger cars rented under the Hertz brand for 6 to 8 months, and vans for 24 months,” he said.
“We have adopted a multi-energy strategy for the renewal of our fleet. While it is mainly focusing on battery-electric models, we also offer hybrids, rechargeable or not, and should enter in 2021 around thirty vehicles running on CNG. We reserve these at our branches located near natural gas refueling stations. This energy will remain marginal in our fleet for the moment, and we are going to go there very gradually, ”explains Cyril Lubin.
“This strategy towards more virtuous vehicles is above all a collective adventure with all our employees. Following numerous discussions, we are constantly refining our offers. A few months ago, we still had a few reluctant employees at EVs. This is no longer the case after a few training and information missions which also aim to enable them to fully explain the operation of electric vehicles. We do a lot of teaching with our customers, ”he illustrates.
“Currently, our fleet of 1,800 vehicles for hire has exactly 89 electric units. These are mainly Renault Zoé and Peugeot e-208, but also Tesla Model 3. This premium model is a showcase for the EV, and helps us convert business leaders. It is then easier to convince their staff to switch to electric “, explains the director of operations at Somelac.
“On the utility side, we have the Nissan e-NV200 and Renault Master Z.E. Our wish is to include at least one electric model in each of our vehicle categories. Soon we will be receiving Peugeot e-2008s to represent SUVs, ”he adds.
10% of EV in 2021
“We had 30 electric vehicles in our rental fleet last year. We have tripled this year. Our target for 2021 is for our fleet to be made up of 10% EVs, or 180 units. However, we come up against a limit that currently prevents us from going faster: the power of our electric subscriptions to recharge the batteries, “reveals our interlocutor.
“A few days ago, our customers passed the threshold of 250,000 kilometers totaled with our electric vehicles for 2020. And this, despite the confinement and the Covid-19 crisis which slowed down our activities. This zero-emission accumulation is both personal and collective pride, ”he says.
“Before renting a vehicle, we ask the customer what they want to use it for. If he ticks all the right boxes for using an electric model, especially relatively low mileage, we consistently offer him an EV. Of course, the customer remains free to choose. If he wants a diesel, we will provide him with a diesel, ”Cyril Lubin gives an example.
“It’s an organizational change, especially for a business, the move to an electric vehicle. This is why we are committed to removing all objections and all obstacles. There is often skepticism and uncertainties at the start, ”he reports.
“The worst thing would be if the first contact with an EV for one of our customers was a bad experience from their point of view. It has happened before, because of temporarily failing charging stations nearby, ”he admits.
“The Peugeot e-208 is the most successful, because it pleases with its looks. But many of those who have tried it as well as the new Renault Zoé prefer the latter for its real autonomy a little greater and a driving perceived as more serene ”, testifies Cyril Lubin.
“In 98% of cases, a customer who discovers electric mobility with us asks for the vehicle he had on that occasion again. He does it with a certain pride, that of having taken the plunge, and most often thanks us for it, “he assures us.
“Compared to a thermal equivalent, our EVs are rented with a very small price differential, around 5%, offset with the savings made on fuel. In the end, the cost is the same, ”he points out.
Recharge with the Chargemap Pass
“Contrary to what we ask for thermal models, we do not require customers to return EVs to us after they have fully recharged the battery. We take care of it ourselves, either from the 7 to 11 kW terminals installed in our branches, or by using those available in the public space around us “, indicates the Somelac executive.
What if customers need to recharge while on the go? “We provide a Chargemap Pass with the vehicle. We tried several badges, but this one quickly became obvious with its ease of use and large coverage, ”he tells us.
An offer to discover electric mobility
“In particular for entrepreneurs who are afraid to engage in electric mobility, we have thought about a ‘getting started’ offer, with a play on words but without major initial investment, which includes one or more electric vehicles. and the rental of efficient charging stations adapted to the models, ”explains Cyril Lubin.
“Excluding the installation for which we let our customers choose their electrician, the monthly rent for this Astragam equipment to be fixed to the wall or to the ground using a foot starts at 75 euros excluding tax,” he underlines.
Also electric bikes
“Electrically assisted bicycles meet a lot of the mobility needs of individuals and professionals. Among the latter, for example, we find real estate agents who travel within a very limited area, ”argues Cyril Lubin.
Arcade branded VAEs are offered individually or in a fleet, through 2 offers – Essential and Premium – whose respective monthly rents start at 59 euros (40 km range) and 69 euros (80 km). Bicycles are provided with an anti-theft lock and insurance. For an additional 10 euros, maintenance (tires, braking systems, battery control, settings) is included. These formulas are offered over periods of 12, 24 and 36 months.
Automobile Propre and I would like to thank Cyril Lubin for his responsiveness and availability. A big thank you also to JF who suggested the subject to us and took steps with the Somelac Director of Operations to facilitate this interview.