November 17, 2020 - The trend toward digitalization is changing our daily lives, including our driving behavior — and thus our customers’ needs as well. In an interview with Dr. Andreas Dürr, Head of Digital Connected Products, he explains how his team is developing flexible digital products that offer drivers real added value. He also talks about the products Dürr is currently working on and how the used car market can benefit from them.
Hello, Andreas. How would you describe the work you’re doing at your department, Digital Connected Products?
We develop digital services with the aim of adapting the core products of Daimler Mobility — financing, leasing, and insurance — to the requirements of our customers. This primarily means offering customers added value in the form of more flexible products.
Do you have an example?
Our insurance product “Pay How You Drive” enables our customers to measure their driving behavior. Customers who drive more carefully and thus have a lower “driver score” pay less for their insurance. An algorithm calculates how big a discount they receive. And our “Dynamic Lease” product also offers customers use-based leasing payments that are calculated on the basis of the odometer reading of their vehicle. That way the customers pay only for the distance they have actually driven. We’re also working on ways to digitalize the processes that operate in the background, because the more efficiently we design our processes the more costs we, and ultimately our customers, can save.
Could you explain in more detail exactly how Dynamic Lease works?
For users of Dynamic Lease, the leasing rate changes from month to month and depends on how often the customer has used the vehicle. There is a fixed amount and a variable amount that is based on how many kilometers were actually driven. The kilometers driven are measured and used to calculate the total amount of each monthly payment. For a month during which the user doesn’t drive very often, he or she pays correspondingly less. This kind of product is especially attractive for our customers during the coronavirus pandemic, because of course people don’t like to pay a leasing charge if their vehicle is simply parked outside their front door.
You’re surely also working to develop new products. What services are you planning to launch on the market in the future?
We’re working together with the Blockchain Factory to develop a new product that we now want to pilot in the UK. It’s called the “Car Mileage Certificate.” It involves the creation of a digital and automated certificate that’s similar to a credit rating and registers the actual mileage of the vehicle. That can be helpful to participants in the used vehicle market, and at Daimler Mobility we will have an additional touchpoint with the customer during the second lifecycle of a vehicle.
Where did you get this idea?
In Germany alone, the manipulation of vehicles’ odometer readings causes financial damage amounting to €6 billion annually. That’s why we’re trying to develop a product that blocks this kind of manipulation by means of algorithms we are developing in-house. When our customers want to sell their Mercedes vehicles, they receive from us a certificate that their used vehicle really does have the mileage they have indicated. This certificate enhances our customers’ credibility when they are reselling their used vehicles.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in the course of your career?
There are quite a few! To give you just one example, I’ve learned that projects succeed only if you work together. For me, teamwork is everything. When everyone’s cooperating across departments and functions, we always find a solution together. One of my most important tasks as a manager is to support the employees in my team in ways that enable them to do the best job they can. And strong teamwork is ultimately a lot more fun besides. Another important lesson I’ve learned is that we need to constantly continue developing, both professionally and personally, and stay flexible. That’s very important especially during these fast-moving times.
What do you like especially about your job?
I especially enjoy working in innovative areas, using new technologies, and developing products with high levels of customer utility. I also like sharing knowledge with so many different kinds of people and getting to know new cultures and areas of knowledge. We currently operate in more than 25 markets, and that number will soon increase to 30. I had touchpoints with almost each one of these markets. I really enjoy our cooperation on product launches, as well as our intercultural communication.
In conclusion, what were the highlights of 2020 from your perspective?
My personal highlight was the fact that we’ve accomplished so much in spite of the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve developed products, launched pilot projects, opened up new markets through our products, and done all that from our home offices. That has really impressed me. I also believe that through these experiences we’ve grown together to become an even stronger team.