In 2018, Renting Colombia consolidated a fleet of 19,000 vehicles. What led to the consolidation of this growth, and how will you continue to grow?
There was 12% growth in the long-term business of the company, and for Localiza, in terms of fleet size, we will grow around 45%. The long-term business, which is focused on corporate clients, has been in place for 23 years and is still growing at 12%, which, given the current economic situation of the country, is a great number. In that line of business, we have been growing in corporate fleets that are specialized and have associated services, guaranteeing availability during contracts that usually lasts for six to seven years with full maintenance, insurance, and taxes. Localiza has doubled the number of agencies that service clients, from 21 to 40, in 18 cities around the country. This allows us to provide services to 92% of the GDP produced in Colombia. We are also growing as a fleet to supply these new agencies and the growing demand and market. We are changing the culture, because short-term car rentals are not in high demand compared to other countries in the region, and even smaller compared to Europe and the US. The rent-a-car business in Colombia is informal, and we are transforming it by using new vehicles, having international standards in terms of services and fees, and ensuring there are no surprises. People feel they never know the real cost of a car rental, but they do with us because we are clear on fees. In 2019, we started a new project for long-term rentals to individuals, as we are trying to change the culture from owning a car to merely paying for its usage. These are three-year contracts that include everything, including maintenance. We make the process simple for both joining and exiting the program.
Renting Colombia and Auteco signed an agreement on electric mobility. How important are renewable energies for the future, and what will be their long-term role?
It is not a fad for us; it is a strategic decision as a company and a country. We are determined to change mobility in Colombia. While many think switching from fuel to electric-powered cars amounts to the biggest change, the reality is that the greatest contaminants are delivery fleets, which are diesel powered and about 20 years old. And there are no renewable alternatives in that market. Five years ago, we decided to partner with companies like Auteco and others around the world to create a project called “a thousand solutions." With this project, we will bring 1,000 trucks for urban distribution. We initially set the goal for 2021, but already have 400 vehicles working in the field with excellent results. We even have five-year contracts with some clients. We want zero pollution in terms of emissions, noise, and particulates. We are heavily betting on resources, knowledge, and technology to transform the distribution sector. Bancolombia is the most sustainable financial group in the world, and this partnership completely fits our strategy. We are also investing in cars to rent out electric vehicles. We want users to give electric cars a try and understand that they are safe, comfortable, and efficient. Thus far, we have had positive results. We also have a plan to create and promote green corridors from Localiza for tourism that include mountains, rivers, and scenery.
What other strategic partnerships do you have or are you considering?
A key aspect of our rental business is partnerships. To service our fleet, which has almost 23,000 vehicles, we have over 1,200 partnerships with maintenance providers, manufacturers, insurers, financial institutions, governments, and local municipalities. We need to support clients during the length of their contract to ensure continuity. We also need to have partnerships with energy providers for the electric fleet and to ensure that charging stations are cost effective and well located.