Tradition on a New Course

The mobility sector is in flux and the DKV Mobility Group is in the thick of things. Thanks to digital solutions and a focus on electric mobility, this long-standing company is developing into an innovative service provider for shipping companies and fleet operators throughout Europe. Expertise from Porsche Consulting helped DKV launch its process of transformation.


DKV Mobility
Farsighted change is the core component of DKV's growth strategy. Founded in 1934 and headquartered in Ratingen, the company has a long history of coordinating road and rail transport, and became especially well known for its fuel cards. Today it is the leading B2B mobility service provider in Europe: digital, sustainable, and efficient.DKV Mobility

The DKV Mobil­i­ty Ser­vices Group com­bines a rich tra­di­tion with a future-ori­ent­ed course. Found­ed more than 85 years ago, it has helped shape the Euro­pean mobil­i­ty sec­tor in far­sight­ed ways. Today it is Europe’s lead­ing B2B mobil­i­ty ser­vices provider, trust­ed by small enter­pris­es and major truck­ing oper­a­tions alike. Taxi com­pa­nies, doc­tors’ offices, gar­den­ers, and bakers—anyone using a van for their busi­ness or run­ning an entire fleet of vehi­cles can ben­e­fit from DKV’s services.

DKV’s suc­cess is based on its vision of han­dling all of its cus­tomers’ mobil­i­ty-relat­ed tasks so the lat­ter are free to focus on their core areas of activ­i­ty. The com­pa­ny’s trans­ac­tions have increased to a vol­ume of 9.3 bil­lion euros in 2020. And it con­tin­ues to pur­sue change on a sys­tem­at­ic basis, rein­vent­ing itself with the aim of guid­ing its cus­tomers from the old to the new world of mobility—profitably and sus­tain­ably. In addi­tion to the fuel cards that laid the foun­da­tion for its suc­cess, DKV’s busi­ness model is based on inno­v­a­tive and dig­i­tal ser­vices for cus­tomers and on sus­tain­able forms of mobil­i­ty. The face of this change, and also its dri­ving force, is CEO Marco van Kal­leveen. A native of the Nether­lands, he has head­ed DKV since 2019 and is respon­si­ble for main­tain­ing the pace on the road to change.

International structure

DKV Mobility
DKV Mobility
Marco van Kalleveen (52) became the CEO of DKV in April of 2019. Born in the Netherlands, he has worked in Chicago, San Francisco, London, and most recently Amsterdam, where he sharpened his specialist knowledge of the mobility and logistics sector as COO and board member of the LeasePlan leasing services provider (annual turnover: 10 billion euros). He was previously a board member with TNT Express and a partner with McKinsey, and also active with the Bain Capital investment firm. After studying business economics at Erasmus University in Rotterdam he earned an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Actively shaping change

“Improv­ing companies—making them vibrant and successful—is what I love to do,” says van Kal­leveen. And his record con­firms his words. Since leav­ing McK­in­sey, van Kalleveen’s work has includ­ed guid­ing the trans­for­ma­tion of port­fo­lio com­pa­nies for Bain Cap­i­tal. He then strate­gi­cal­ly restruc­tured the glob­al depart­ment for domes­tic activ­i­ties at the TNT Express inter­na­tion­al couri­er ser­vice. He now seeks to do the same with DKV.

Van Kal­leveen is build­ing the future of the mobil­i­ty ser­vice provider on three pil­lars: growth in the core busi­ness area, a focus on inno­va­tions and dig­i­tal solu­tions, and strong lead­er­ship in the field of renew­able ener­gies. In early 2019, Porsche Con­sult­ing helped lay the foun­da­tion on which these three pil­lars stand. “With their down-to-earth approach and pro­found insid­er exper­tise, the con­sul­tants were very help­ful to us in build­ing up our busi­ness oper­a­tions,” says van Kal­leveen. When he joined DKV in April of 2019—shortly after Porsche Con­sult­ing had fin­ished the project—he lost no time in putting the man­age­ment con­sul­tants’ pro­pos­als into prac­tice. These includ­ed open­ing a pro­duc­tion unit and uti­liz­ing a cat­a­logue of poten­tial sources of savings.

Tradition and growth

Founded as Deutscher Kraftverkehr GmbH in Düsseldorf in 1934, DKV initially worked at the interface of transport by road and rail. Today, DKV is known throughout Europe for its fuel cards and its innovative services for vehicle fleets. Its customers range from large companies to very small delivery services. Medium-sized enterprises account for 80 percent of its business in the mobility sector. All signs at DKV are pointing toward growth. Its transactions in 2020 reached a volume of 9.3 billion euros, with around 1,200 employees at 15 international subsidiaries. The company is now seeking to help shape the sector Europe-wide and bring it onto a sustainable course with digital payment, invoicing, and navigation solutions for fleet management, fueling, toll payments, and electric mobility. Upon signing on to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC)—the world's largest initiative for sustainable and socially responsible management—in December 2020, DKV declared sustainability one of its key aims and proceeded to integrate the ten universal sustainability principles for human rights, labor, the environment, and anti-corruption into its corporate strategy. It has also committed itself to attaining the EU's climate goals, and is planning to achieve a positive carbon footprint for its own activities by 2023.

An impor­tant part of van Kal­leveen’s growth strat­e­gy is to acquire addi­tion­al busi­ness in Europe. DKV is already active in more than 40 coun­tries on the con­ti­nent and con­tin­ues to expand its cus­tomer base and col­lab­o­ra­tive ven­tures in all areas. Its plat­form approach plays a key role here. The com­pa­ny uses part­ner­ships to con­sol­i­date the ser­vices of dif­fer­ent providers—including fuel sta­tion chains, toll col­lec­tion com­pa­nies, freight exchanges, and vehi­cle repair shops—and make them avail­able to its cus­tomers, there­by over­com­ing bar­ri­ers posed by inter­na­tion­al bor­ders and lan­guage differences.

Overall service

The best exam­ple for this approach is how the DKV fuel card has evolved. This card lets hold­ers pay with­out cash at more than 65,000 part­ner fuel sta­tions, use the cur­rent num­ber of approx­i­mate­ly 185,000 charg­ing sta­tions, pay tolls for high­ways, bridges, and tun­nels, and also pay park­ing fees. The trans­ac­tions are com­piled on an online por­tal that enables own­ers to man­age their card lim­its and even down­load final state­ments for tax purposes.

DKV Mobility
The DKV portal is a single source of information and services for everyone from owners of a single delivery van to operators of large-scale passenger and commercial vehicle fleets. These include invoicing tools as well as a continuously updated overview of all affiliated fuel stations and the ever increasing number of charging points for electric vehicles.DKV Mobility

The DKV card is the nexus for addi­tion­al services—thanks in part to the new tech­ni­cal solu­tions that DKV is devel­op­ing. For exam­ple, large ship­ping com­pa­nies can pro­vide cards to their dri­vers and also install the DKV BOX in their vehi­cles in order to pay tolls fully auto­mat­i­cal­ly in dif­fer­ent Euro­pean coun­tries. DKV also offers a Europe-wide emer­gency ser­vice with refer­rals to part­ner work­shops as well as coun­try-spe­cif­ic assis­tance in han­dling bureau­crat­ic mat­ters. It sup­ports cus­tomers in every­thing from pre-financ­ing Bel­gium’s min­er­al oil rebates to putting France’s min­i­mum wage into practice.

“We have more than 250,000 cus­tomers through­out Europe and more than five mil­lion users of our prod­ucts and devices,” says van Kal­leveen. “We also have a net­work of sup­pli­ers we can con­nect them with.” DKV is there­by uni­fy­ing Europe’s frag­ment­ed mobil­i­ty land­scape and turn­ing the com­pa­ny’s slo­gan of “You drive, we care” into a scal­able busi­ness model that also attracts small and very small enter­pris­es. Just like a large ship­ping com­pa­ny, a vil­lage baker also has vans that require fuel­ing, park­ing, and bookkeeping—just in a dif­fer­ent mag­ni­tude. As van Kal­leveen explains, “We offer an over­all ser­vice to our customers.”

Success from digital innovations

Since van Kal­leveen joined the com­pa­ny, DKV has com­plete­ly or par­tial­ly acquired eleven com­pa­nies in dif­fer­ent countries—while con­tin­u­ing to expand its part­ner­ships with fuel sta­tions and charg­ing net­works. The acqui­si­tions fall into two cat­e­gories. Some are intend­ed to gain spe­cif­ic region­al exper­tise and skills and devel­op new cus­tomer groups. For exam­ple, in late May 2021 DKV strength­ened its pres­ence in east­ern Europe by acquir­ing three providers of main­te­nance solu­tions for com­mer­cial fleets from Esto­nia, Lithua­nia, and Poland.

With the other cat­e­go­ry of acqui­si­tions, van Kal­leveen is pur­su­ing his strat­e­gy of rais­ing the level of dig­i­tal­iza­tion in DKV’s prod­uct range. “Inno­v­a­tive uses of tech­nol­o­gy give rise to new busi­ness fields, and we are con­sis­tent­ly ahead of the curve here,” he reports. One exam­ple is the acqui­si­tion in Jan­u­ary 2020 of Styletron­ic, a lead­ing provider of GPS and logis­tics man­age­ment ser­vices from Aus­tria. Thanks to Styletron­ic’s exper­tise, and in par­tic­u­lar its real-time track­ing of deliv­er­ies and fleets, DKV was able to bring DKV LIVE onto the mar­ket just eight months later. This sys­tem gives ship­ping com­pa­nies a por­tal on which to view the loca­tions of their vehi­cles at all times. DKV LIVE also cal­cu­lates esti­mat­ed deliv­ery times based on dri­vers’ indi­vid­ual per­for­mance patterns—an absolute nov­el­ty in Europe’s logis­tics sector.

DKV Mobility
The DKV app integrates digital fuel cards and lets tolls be paid with a click. The DKV LIVE app uses GPS data to keep dispatchers up to date on their drivers' active and rest periods. And the integrated freight exchange helps prevent the need for trips without cargo.DKV Mobility

Smart and sustainable solutions

DKV LIVE also helps the com­pa­ny keep its promis­es about the envi­ron­ment. “We want to play a major role in facil­i­tat­ing the tran­si­tion in mobil­i­ty to a more effi­cient and sus­tain­able future,” says van Kal­leveen. “That’s why we’re try­ing to become the lead­ing provider of sus­tain­able ser­vices in our indus­try.” For exam­ple, DKV wants to help its cus­tomers reduce their CO2 inten­si­ty by 30 per­cent by 2030. DKV LIVE helps by cal­cu­lat­ing the ideal route for each trip, which reduces the amount of fuel need­ed. The inte­grat­ed dig­i­tal freight exchange also helps by let­ting ship­ping com­pa­nies see if addi­tion­al cargo jobs are avail­able along its routes and to prompt­ly book them if so. This pre­vents empty and extra trips—and helps to fur­ther lower car­bon emissions.

More­over, DKV helps its cus­tomers switch to elec­tric vehi­cles if they so desire. To do so, it found­ed the Charge4Europe joint ven­ture with the Inno­gy e‑fuel provider, which offers access to a com­pre­hen­sive net­work of charg­ing points through­out Europe. Since late April 2021, this part­ner­ship has also includ­ed high-speed charg­ing points at Total fuel sta­tions in France, Ger­many, Bel­gium, and the Netherlands.

The shift in strat­e­gy is already show­ing pos­i­tive results. Thanks to the larg­er cus­tomer base, new prod­ucts, and cor­po­rate strat­e­gy, sales in 2020 grew by 10 per­cent. Van Kal­leveen is excit­ed about the future. “Ger­many has his­tor­i­cal­ly been our home and we con­tin­ue to be very strong here. But we are also grow­ing very fast in France, Italy, Aus­tria, and east­ern Europe.”

Laying the foundations for transformation

DKV has grown continuously to meet rising demand ever since it was founded. But every branch of its business develops at its own pace, and synergies were not arising. Until 2019 the company did not have its own production unit that could function on a trans-divisional basis. Instead, the sales division handled the respective product management tasks. With the mobility sector changing faster than ever due to digitalization and new drive systems, it was necessary to adapt the company's internal structure to lay the foundation for further growth and create the conditions to enable flexible responses to future changes. "We needed someone with operational expertise who could help us set up a production unit," says Tobias Würz, who is now director core operations at DKV. "So we brought Porsche Consulting on board to initiate the transformation process." The management consultancy took on the job in early 2019 and completed the project just three months later. It focused on launching corporate change and identifying potential sources of savings. Claus-Conrad Roth, a manager at Porsche Consulting, guided the project. "We analyzed cost blocks and weak points to achieve an efficient structure that meets the market's needs," he says. "We then used workshops to develop potential solutions and identify sources of savings together with the employees." Würz was especially impressed by the consultants' goal-oriented approach, remarking that Porsche Consulting invariably focused on the customer and wasted no time with superfluous questions. Würz is thoroughly pleased with the solution. "Porsche Consulting laid the foundations for transforming the company. We followed up on identifying potential savings, and brought in 300,000 euros a year in the first round of negotiations with our contract partners." In 2020, DKV could then save a total of approximately half a million euros. Working with Porsche Consulting also made it possible to open a service center in Romania in the course of setting up the operational unit. As Würz explains, "We used to do everything from Ratingen. Porsche Consulting helped us to change our perspective—and that now functions on a sustainable basis."
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