Brussels, (Brussels Morning)- On Friday, the new bicycle shop of car dealer D’Ieteren will open in the company’s former car showroom. Car dealers that no longer only bet on cars: it is the future.
Car dealer D’Ieteren will sell bicycles under the name ‘Lucien’. The associated store opens today on the American street in Ixelles, at D’Ieteren’s headquarters, in a garage that previously functioned as a large car showroom of the company. Lucien offers various bicycle brands in an area of more than 2,000 m2. “In addition, there is a 1,500 m2 test track,” says Karl Lechat, managing director of Lucien.
The idea of investing more in bicycles is not that surprising, according to Lechat. “D’Ieteren is 217 years old. We are mainly known for importing Volkswagen products, but we have always been a mobility company and only for 70 years also for cars,” emphasises Lechat.
D’Ieteren is now opening the first Lucien flagship store in Brussels, but the company has been focusing on more than just cars for some time now. For example, I bought iBike in Antwerp. The eight stores there will also be transformed into Lucien. “We also want to buy more bicycle shops in Brussels in order to bundle our expertise,” says Lechat. “Within five years, the turnover should be above 100 million euros.”
D’Ieteren previously invested in the shared mobility provider Poppy and in the mobility app Skipr. In this way, the company wants to become a real mobility supplier.
“It completely fits the idea of what the mobility of the future will look like,” says sustainable mobility expert Cathy Macharis (VUB). “The current system is hitting its limits. Internationally, we see a movement that is striving for more public space for greenery and meeting places in the cities. Then there is less room for the car. People are starting to see that the car can be a burden and that there are other more suitable options for getting around.”
According to mobility expert Bas De Geus (VUB), the switch from car supplier to mobility supplier is very interesting from an economic perspective. “Car sales have fallen in the last two years. In order to keep the company profitable in the future, it is therefore interesting to diversify the offer.”
Future of mobility
According to Macharis and De Geus, D’Ieteren is one of the pioneers in the switch to a mobility supplier instead of a car supplier. Although it is a trend that you also see at other companies. “For example, the Stromer speed pedelecs are also distributed in Volvo’s car showroom at Delta metro station. They are very popular with the population,” says De Geus.
Car leasing companies are also trying to increase their offer. “Athlon, for example, is evolving from a pure car leasing company to a company that helps companies implement a mobility budget in an efficient way,” says Macharis.
It’s a trend that will only continue and is also essential for companies to survive, Macharis says. “The future of mobility is not car ownership, but Mobility as a Service (Maas). It is important that car manufacturers and car dealers take the step to go along with that.”