Embezzled vehicles : ‘100% secure in less than 48 hours, then recovered thanks to Echoes’.

Christophe Réding has been security manager at FlexiFleet since May 2022. He shares with us his day-to-day experiences with the Echoes tools.

Echoes: Could you introduce us to Flexifleet? 

Christophe Réding: FlexiFleet is a leasing and long-term rental company founded in 2017 and dedicated specifically to VTC drivers. It’s important to remember that this clientele is generally not very eligible for credit or traditional leasing, because banks are wary of their status, their activity and their irregular income. Hence the need for an offer designed to give them access to the vehicles that are their working tools. FlexiFleet negotiates the purchase of vehicles on its behalf with manufacturers, distributors and financiers, then makes them available to VTC drivers on a long-term lease for 36 to 48 months. We also offer medium-term leases, from 3 months upwards, for self-employed drivers who are starting out in the business or have a one-off need for a replacement. Our fleet consists of around 2,500 vehicles on the road, mainly premium saloons, SUVs and vans. 

Echoes: What need led you to use geolocation solutions?  

CR: For all vehicle rental companies, embezzlement is a major danger. Embezzlement differs from ‘simple’ theft in that there is a contract between the hire company and the driver: by not fulfilling his contractual obligations to pay the monthly instalments, the driver is guilty of a breach of trust. In reality, drivers who engage in this type of mischief are rarely ill-intentioned: they are generally self-employed entrepreneurs who are unable to balance their income and expenses, and end up being overwhelmed. In all cases, we work with the customer to find amicable solutions before taking legal action. If the amicable solution is unsuccessful, we try to recover the vehicle as quickly as possible. Insurance does not cover breach of trust, and a lost car means a serious loss to our balance sheet. 

Echoes: why did you choose Echoes? 

CR: Previously, Flexifleet sometimes used other solutions on the market, with varying degrees of success. In the months following my arrival, several vehicles were lost due to a lack of effective follow-up. Echoes’ CarLocate offering appealed to us because of its ability to provide the vehicle’s position in real time, unlike many other competing systems. This is of obvious benefit when it comes to tracking a vehicle on the move abroad, but also when ill-intentioned customers call in an accomplice garage to disable data transmission. As soon as the data flow is interrupted, we use the vehicle’s last known position to identify the garage in question and act accordingly. In this respect, the accuracy of the manufacturer’s data is impressive, with a precise location to within a few metres! 

Echoes: How do you recover vehicles? 

CR: It varies a lot, depending on the case. Before any recovery, the first step is to identify the embezzlement situation. To help me do this, every morning I use CarLocate to map the vehicles that have left the country, so that I can detect any suspicious cases. The priority is then to lodge a complaint and then secure the vehicle, i.e. locate it and ensure that it can no longer be moved, even if this means using a remote block. Then it’s a matter of repatriating it to our country; to do this, I call on my networks to request the assistance of local police services or specialist companies in Eastern Europe or Africa. Our post-embezzlement action procedure, of which Echoes is an integral part, has so far enabled us to secure 100% of the vehicles in less than 48 hours. They are then returned to us in the following days or weeks, depending on the location and the situation.

Echoes: What do you particularly like about the Echoes tools?

CR: CarLocate stands out for its simple, ergonomic interface. It’s also available as an application on smartphones, making it quick and easy to view journeys. Unlike many of our competitors, the position of vehicles is shown precisely on a dynamic map, which is very useful.  Above all, we appreciate the high quality of Echoes’ service on a daily basis, with staff who are readily available and ready to listen. More than just a supplier, Echoes is for us a genuine security partner. 

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