As a young and curious adventurer, Daniel Splechna wanted to fly to space. With a few more years under his belt, he has adjusted his goals, but the thematic cosmos remains the same. After completing his Master’s degree in Management & Innovation at the TUM School of Management, Daniel started his professional career at FINN. Today, he is passionate about helping shape the transformation of the automotive industry toward sustainability. This challenge excites him just as much as the moon landing used to: “We’re talking about a massive transformation that is certainly comparable to the developments that the automotive industry has experienced over the last hundred years,” he says.
Why the master’s program in Management & Innovation?
Daniel prepared himself explicitly for this task in his Master’s in Management & Innovation at the TUM School of Management. “I’ve learned things that I can apply directly in my professional life,” says Daniel. This is due to the practice-oriented combination of innovation and management, but also because sustainability in the automotive industry formed a content pillar in the curriculum.
Daniel’s interest in this subject area was initially sparked during his bachelor’s degree at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität of Munich. During his first semester at LMU, Daniel started working in the Automotive Knowledge Team at the Boston Consulting Group as a working student. The experience he gained there formed the basis for his further professional and academic career. “The interdisciplinary nature of the master’s degree at TUM with the additional focus on innovation and bridging the gap between management and technology brought together all these topics that still inspire and drive me today,” says Daniel. “That’s why I chose the Management & Innovation program.”
Fighting uncertainty to drive transformation
For his master’s thesis, Daniel talked to several decision-makers about the transformation of the automotive industry and found that uncertainty still dominates in some areas – often due to various megatrends whose impact and opportunities cannot yet be fully assessed.
Daniel explains it as follows: “My master’s thesis showed that the business environment of the automotive industry was very much defined by certainty in the past decades, but today is increasingly determined by uncertainty. In this context, the approach to strategic decision-making would have to change. However, by no means are all companies doing that yet.”
Somewhere between necessity and doubt
Of course, this sense of uncertainty is currently finding its way into all sub-sectors of the industry, no matter if car manufacturers, start-ups, or suppliers. Yet it has become unmistakably clear that sustainability must be an integral part of any future-oriented business model. Awareness is rising enormously. “For me, this is the first important step towards successfully advancing the topic,” says Daniel. There is also a growing understanding of climate protection among the general population. At the same time, there are still many hurdles and reservations that the automotive industry must clear in terms of electromobility.
For Daniel, who is committed to the topic of sustainability at FINN as well, three challenges are crucial for the further transformation process: transparency, costs, and ethics. “In my eyes, it is not only crucial to have a sustainable process, but also to make it really comprehensible. For me, it is also important to implement a holistic ESG approach for the entire value chain. Because not only is the environment important to us, but so are social and corporate governance. Keeping all of this in mind and still finding an affordable and sustainable solution is a very difficult challenge”, states Daniel. After all, this is the only way to convince customers of the added value of electromobility. Daniel sees the financial aspect as another major challenge: “The goal must be to pass on fewer costs to the customer. Processes have to be optimized to reduce production expenses.”
In his master’s studies at the TUM School of Management, Daniel learned to work in a problem-oriented manner and to keep focusing on one question: “Are we really solving a customer’s problem with this process right now?” What he describes as his key learning in theory, Daniel now applies in practice.
Making electromobility more accessible
As a Partnership Manager, he works at the start-up FINN, which offers car subscriptions – a new business model that differs decisively from conventional leasing offers. FINN car subscriptions are more flexible, e.g., with terms of six or twelve months, include everything but fuel and come with a higher convenience than leasing. In addition, the vehicles are instantly available. “Driving your own car is usually associated with high effort and comes with non-transparent costs. At FINN, we are revolutionizing conventional car ownership, making it as easy as buying a t-shirt online,” says Daniel. “This is how we facilitate our customers’ entry into electric and hybrid mobility. They can subscribe to an electric vehicle for a short period of time without risk and find out to what extent it fits their user behaviour.”
The ordering process theoretically takes only five minutes. Then the selected car is delivered to the desired address. Contract terms start at just one month; 36 months are common with other leasing offers. The idea behind it: By taking the long-term contractual commitment out of the equation, FINN wants to reduce fear of contact with electromobility, create test incentives and offer the opportunity to try out innovative cars in an uncomplicated way. That’s why the company’s claim is: “Making mobility fun and sustainable.”
Due to the continued high demand, FINN does not want to waive combustion cars in its portfolio. However, the company invests part of the revenue from these kinds of subscriptions in climate protection projects. “In the long term, we want to increase the share of electric cars,” says Daniel.