Globalisation has opened borders, markets and doors for great business opportunities. We want you to be able to seize them all and feel at home in the world with our services always within reach. In this new edition of “Alphabet around the world” our partner AKS Fleet Solutions, operating from Serbia, will take you through parts of their countryside and traffic. Let’s take a look!
Tell us a bit about your company, please. What makes you special?
AKS FLEET SOLUTION is the biggest independent fleet service provider on the Serbian market, established in 2013. The AKS management has many years of experience in the automotive industry with respects to monitoring of passengers and light commercial vehicles, the leasing business in general but also with leasing companies specifically. In addition to being the market leader, we developed our own app (MY AFS CAR) through which our clients can book regular maintenance appointments, tire replacements, annual registration renewals, or view their accident management, and last but not least, can also see their individual service history.
Driving like a local: Your best tips
Serbia is such an interesting country. Can you recommend some nice spots in your area as a must-visit for drivers?
The capital Belgrade is definitely worth a visit. Taking a car to drive around, can take you to many interesting places such as Kalemegdan’s fortress, the National Museum, Skadarlija quarter, just to name a few. But a couple of other cities and places should also be in scope when visiting Serbia, for example Novi Sad, Subotica, Niš, or Palić.
For travellers who prefer nature over city trips, we highly recommend a road trip to the stone formations of Djavolja Varoš (or Devil’s Town), once nominated for one of the new seven wonders of nature. The stones are located in Southern Serbia, on mount Radan not far from the town of Kuršumlija. Nearby, curious minds can find special springs – Žito Vrele and Djavolja Voda – filled with extremely acid water, which some say has miraculous properties. Travelling to Djavolja Varoš by car can turn into a fun road trip along the scenic route of Niš-Priština road. The stones are located 288 km from Belgrade and 89 km from Niš.
What is your best advice as a local on vehicles, traffic, and general customs in your country that you would give to a driver from abroad?
Driving in Serbia, especially in Belgrade, can be stressful during rush hour, but is definitely a great way for unexperienced drivers to increase their skills. Some general things that are important to know for drivers of all levels regarding our traffic rules are the following:
- The speed limit is 50 km/h in most urban areas, 80 km/h on secondary roads and up to 130 km/h on highways.
- The maximum blood alcohol content allowed is 0.03 % and the fines for drivers under the influence are very high – better not push your luck!
- The highway from the northern part of Serbia all the way to the southern part is connected with pay stations.
- Gas stations on highways are usually open 24 hours. Within city limits there are also gas stations working 24/7, but most of them have opening hours from 7 am to 10 pm.
What do drivers in your region attach particular importance to?
Serbian drivers value comfort and connectivity. Air conditioning, for example, is almost mandatory as we live in a relatively warm country. During summer, we often reach temperatures of over 35°C. But drivers expect other features as well, for example Android Auto or CarPlay, parking sensors or speed limiters. Optical features such as metallic paint or LED technology are often requested as well. On the company-side, the first choice regarding fuel or electricity is still ICE, mainly diesel engines, but there has been a slight movement towards PHEVs and HEVs.
The new normal: COVID-19 measures in Serbia
How has the daily business changed for you since COVID-19?
In the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, daily business suffered tremendously because of short working hours and a police-mandated curfew. As time passed by, starting in May of 2020, we were back in our offices, and have been working very hard on dealing with COVID-19 precautions. Most of our clients started communicating via Skype/Zoom/Teams or other platforms as a replacement for face-to-face meetings which was difficult in the beginning, but we managed to deal with that. Starting in 2021, vehicle orders by our clients increased again, which now leaves us with new challenges: the lack of vehicles in production due to semiconductor challenges at the OEM factories.
What special measures did you take to protect customers?
Precautionary measures such as daily disinfection of the workplace and face masks are mandatory in our offices. Also, hand sanitizer is available in every office and every hallway, so when clients visit our building, they are as safe as possible. Vehicles, especially the steering wheel and main touch spaces etc. are also being disinfected before delivery to clients.
Mobility trends: Fleet development
Which partners are you currently working with?
We currently work with all official repair shops of the OEMs, and we also have great cooperations with gas stations, but unfortunately, Serbian law prohibits us from including fuel in our monthly instalments. We don’t have direct cooperations with tire companies or factories, but we are hoping that we can start working with TOYO TIRES here in Serbia once the construction of their new factory is finished. Besides that, our tire suppliers provide us with brands such as Pirelli, Continental, Dunlop, Michelin, Bridgestone, Nokian, Toyo, Kumho, Kleber, Riken etc.
Which mobility services are the most important in your market?
The by far most important mobility service for short term periods is rent.
Our partner from Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Croatia, Autohellas, would like to know: Operating leasing initially was introduced for corporate fleets. In the last two years, we see that individual leasing has become very popular in our markets. Do you observe the same trend in your country? How and when do you think other mobility solutions will be adapted from individuals?
We see this trend also present here in Serbia, where individual leasing has huge potential. However, the biggest obstacle is to find suitable means of security in order to make sure that – in case a client is not able to pay their monthly instalments – we can cover the risk. Also, we are hoping that fleet management for individuals will be adapted in the next year or two.
The next interviewee will be from our OneNet partner Unidas in Brazil. What would you like to ask them?
How has COVID-19 affected Brazil, and what kind of mobility services are most important in your country?
Thank you for taking us through your country. See you there soon!