Is vehicle distribution a commodity–albeit a quality commodity–to be bought on price? Or is the outbound supply chain a key contributor to customer satisfaction, which creates brand loyalty among car consumers?
Speakers including Toyota Europe’s Levent Yuksel, Fiat’s Paola Petrone and Daimler’s Egon Christ will address this key strategic issue when they meet with fellow OEMs and the community of LSPs at this year’s ECG Conference, to be held in Paris on October 13-14.
Petrone for one believes in a partnership with her providers. But in an interview in the latest issue of Automotive Logistics she said: “Few companies appreciate the value of relationships. If I have a problem…I find it disappointing that they immediately hide behind constraints or procedures, and on my next invoice they have added a few extra thousand euros on top of whatever million I am paying them.”
“Not many companies understand [the rewards for going a little bit beyond the contract],” she added, “but the ones that do have been able to see their business with us develop.” (read full article here)
Also on the agenda in Paris is the challenge of re-creating the carrying capacity lost during the recession in order to match today’s sharply improved European demand. The ECG’s president, Costantino Baldissara, commercial director of Grimaldi, put it bluntly when writing in the latest issue of Finished Vehicle Logistics:“Our members still do not feel confident enough to invest in new capacity.”
“Financing is not the issue,” he added. “Very few respondents [to the latest quarterly survey of members] indicated that they are unable to raise funds from the banks. [But] some 70%…cited lack of confidence in their ability to obtain viable future rates.” (read full article here).
An olive branch on rates was offered by Daimler’s head of worldwide transportation, Egon Christ, when he acknowledged at the recent Warsaw assembly of ECG members that many of the distribution contracts in place today were signed when carmakers were in crisis mode in 2008-09. That situation had changed, and LSPs should change with it.
“There is currently what we could call a ‘fight for capacity’ in Europe with a shortage of trucks and drivers,” Christ said. “The outlook for sales and production is good so there is really no reason not to invest. But we recognise that many in the sector have a lack of confidence and trust, and this is holding back investment.” (read more here).
The ECG Conference is the outward-facing annual event of the European association of vehicle distribution providers, which brings together OEMs and LSPs from across the continent. The 2011 conference is being held at Disneyland Paris to provide a mix of easy access, professional convention facilities (Microsoft and other blue chip companies routinely use Disney facilities for their annual meetings), relaxed networking and reasonable prices.
The event opens with the pre-conference dinner (included in the delegate fee) on the evening of Thursday 13 October, followed by the one-day conference on Friday 14th. The conference programme itself has a carefully-crafted programme of networking opportunities, formal presentations and interactive workshops.
Along with car distribution, the high and heavy sector will also be covered at the conference. Already on the speaker roster are logistics and transport managers Joannes van Osta of JCB and David Panjwani of John Deere.
The conference is being held with support from Premier sponsor Gefco, from Gold sponsor Lohr, and from Silver sponsors Aral, BallSystem, CargoTel, Inform and Vehnet.
A partners' programme offers a tour, lunch and fashion show in Paris during the conference day, and delegates and partners can gather for a post-event social dinner at Le Train Bleu, the stylish restaurant in the Gare de Lyon, which opened in 1901 and which has since hosted regulars including Coco Chanel, Brigitte Bardot and Salvador Dali. Transport to and from the conference venue is included in the additional fee for the social dinner.
Finally, there is the opportunity for delegates to stay over for the weekend and live a little by visiting the Disney rides as an easy optional extra.
The annual ECG Conference is this year again being organised on behalf of the ECG by Finished Vehicle Logistics. Go to for details and to register to attend. Information on the ECG itself is at its new website