Stéphane Sertang (Ginion Group): ‘the private car will be for passionates’
How is the car business waking up after the corona confinement? Belgian newspaper L’Echo asked Stéphane Sertang, CEO of the car dealer group Ginion, how he sees things.
Ginion Group covers a certain amount of (usually premium or high-end luxury) brands. There is Mini, BMW, and Volvo, but also Ferrari, Rolls-Royce, Ferrari, McLaren, Pininfarina, or Touring Superleggera). During confinement, the seven sites of the group were closed, 300 workers on temporary unemployment, but three workshops stayed open to assure the mobility of BMW and Volvo cars, especially those used by public or emergency services.
From the first day of the reopening in May, clients came back. In fact, for the Ginion group, May 2020 will be a better month than May 2019. Sertang points out that people were very interested in “freedom transport”, for example, cabriolets or motorbikes. “Of course, when you talk ‘leisure vehicle’, we’ll have to wait for a few years before we see the real impact of this crisis,” Stéphane Sertang adds.
People tend to react in two different ways in the corona crisis. Some of them wait for a little longer, to see what will come next. Others, on the contrary, compensate traveling restrictions (by air, boat, etc.) by buying a new car. Some also realize that ‘this awkward flu’ could have been the end, so they wanted to give themselves a threat.
Changing the business model
Concerning the impact of the crisis, Sertang says that this will be different according to the sector you work in. When we talk about the car business, Sertang points out that this sector was already hitting problems before the recent crisis. “In its current form, it will surely disappear sooner or later.”
“The car will become a leisure item like the horse has become one after being the first means of transportation for a long time,” he states. “But if far fewer people will own one, they will be ready to spend a lot more to get the object of their wishes.”
According to Sertang, the future market will be shared between the passionates and the others, the latter rather looking for the best mobility solutions, whatever they may be. “It’s not the discussion about which fuel to use that is important,” Sertang muses, “but the arrival of the autonomous and shared car. And this will come sooner than we think.”
At Ginion, they’re already preparing the change. There are a lot of discussions with other companies, of all kinds. Sertang not only sees optimism as a moral duty, he simply has it in the veins. “Even in the darkest of nights, there’s always a star to shine,” he concludes.
And he joins the last anecdote to confirm it. “Lately, there was a Portuguese guy stuck in a traffic jam just in front of the McLaren showroom because he couldn’t drive through the ‘Bois de la Cambre’ anymore. So he parks his car, enters the showroom, and buys a McLaren.”
“A week later, his cousin calls us and buys another one. So, finally, there are two McLarens ready for transport to Portugal. You see, you always win by staying optimistic.”