Faced with embezzlement: ‘98% of geolocated vehicles are recovered thanks to Echoes’.

Maxim Badin is fleet manager for Drivalia France. He tells us why his company chose Echoes, and how our solutions enable them to recover 98% of hijacked vehicles.

Echoes: Can you tell us about Drivalia? 

Maxim Badin: Drivalia France is a subsidiary of Crédit Agricole Auto Banque, which offers short and medium-term rental vehicles through several brands:

  • Drivalia offers a wide range of vehicles for short-term rental or monthly subscription, from licence-free cars to large premium saloons.
  • Rent & Drop: one-way van hire
  • E+ Share: a car-sharing solution based in Lyon for a maximum of one day, with a fleet of 150 electric Fiat 500s.

In total, Drivalia employs 80 people and operates a fleet of 4,000 vehicles through 13 of its own branches and 120 point-relais partners.  

Echoes: What need led you to use geolocation solutions?  

MB: Like all rental companies, we have to deal with the theft of vehicles, and especially embezzlement. Most of the time, we’re dealing with drivers who have taken out a monthly subscription or a medium-term rental and are in default of payment, but who don’t want to return the vehicle. We open around thirty cases a year, 95% of which involve misappropriation. Before using Echoes, we filed a complaint and relied on the goodwill of the police to recover the vehicle. Only 50% of cars were recovered. After 30 days, we transferred the case to our insurance company, which compensated us with a high excess, resulting in a huge financial loss for Drivalia. After an initial attempt to use a security company specialising in recovery, which was inconclusive, my manager decided to test a vehicle tracking solution based on the manufacturer’s data.

Echoes: Why not install tracking boxes? 

MB: Drivalia keeps its vehicles for 6 to 12 months on average, 24 months at best. Over this short period of time, immobilising the vehicle once for installation and then a second time to uninstall the device would represent a significant cost and waste of time. Worse still, we only have one logistics centre for the whole of France, which would mean potentially having to drive our vehicles long distances, for nothing. These costs would be added to the entry, subscription and maintenance costs inherent in the boxes. So the Echoes proposal, based on native car connectivity, was the obvious choice.  

Echoes: What procedure do you implement now in the event of misappropriation or embezzlement ? 

MB: In the first instance, late payment or late return gives rise to several reminders by telephone, SMS and e-mail, followed by more formal injunctions. Without success at this stage, we call on Echoes’ CarControl offer, which includes filing a complaint and then locating the vehicle using the manufacturer’s native connectivity. The Echoes teams then take care of recovery. 

Echoes: What are the results? 

MB: A convincing result, since 98% of vehicles located are found and recovered! But above all, the Echoes CarControl solution saves us the time and energy involved in administrative matters and filing a complaint. Handling such disputes is not our job, and neither is having to deal with bad-faith and sometimes threatening customers on the phone or in person. 

Echoes: How do you use CarLocate on a daily basis? 

MB: Because of the RGPD, we don’t track vehicles all the time, but the geofencing functionality offered by CarLocate enables us to activate an alert when a vehicle enters a defined perimeter. For example, I’ve set up certain borders in southern and eastern Europe so that crossing them triggers an alert: at that point, I check whether or not there’s cause for concern. CarLocate also tracks distances travelled, which is very useful for medium-term rental customers with a fixed mileage rate: if necessary, we can warn them that a claim has to be made when they return the car. Finally, if the vehicle breaks down or malfunctions, hirers can legitimately stop their payments. But some people claim that their car is in the garage but continue to use it! Tracking the movements of cars via CarLocate enables us to check that they are acting in good faith.

Echoes: What improvements do you expect to make to CarLocate to make your daily life even better? 

MB: Overall, I’m very satisfied with CarLocate, and I can’t wait for my entire fleet to be eligible! In order to respond even better to our security and logistics issues, it would be invaluable if remote engine start/stop were to become widespread: this feature would enable us to make it easier to move or repatriate the vehicle without having to worry about where the keys are. 

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