Summary of our market study

The global vehicle assistance market, valued at $22.3 billion, was projected to grow at a CAGR of 3.8%, reaching $29 billion by 2026. In Belgium, the car maintenance and repair market, while not exclusively for vehicle assistance, similarly showed an increase from €3.59 billion to €4.30 billion. This growth can be attributed to an increase in vehicle ownership, especially in Europe and Asia, and the aging automotive fleet requiring more services, with the average car age in Belgium rising to 9.01 years. Demand drivers like fuel system issues (21.5% for new cars and 19.7% for used cars) and electrical installation problems significantly influence service requests.

The Flemish region accounted for the most accidents per 1,000 inhabitants as compared to Brussels and Wallonia, suggesting a higher need for vehicle assistance services there. COVID-19 had a varying impact; traffic decreased, leading to lower immediate demand for assistance services, but issues like battery problems increased due to infrequent vehicle use. Companies shifted to providing emergency assistance and repair appointments during the lockdown. The industry mostly comprises SMEs and local garages, but larger players like insurance companies are influential, with AXA Belgium generating €6 billion in revenue. Average prices for assistance varied, with accident/damage costs at €3,513 and on-the-spot towing services ranging from €60 to €178 per year, depending on the package and provider. The market structure is affected by both European Union laws and local Belgian regulations.

By 2020, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the combination of various demand drivers, including the aging vehicle fleet and steady demand for car ownership, suggested that the vehicle assistance service industry in Belgium would remain stable and potentially grow in the long term, driven by the need to service older vehicles and adapt to evolving consumer needs.

Shifting Dynamics in the Belgian Car Breakdown

The Belgian car breakdown assistance market is a dynamic field influenced primarily by trends within the automotive industry. The demand for such services is closely associated with the common issues that drivers face, such as problems with fuel systems, electrical installations, and engine troubles. Particularly, fuel system issues appear to lead the way as the most frequent problems in both new and used cars, likely resulting from incorrect fuel usage. For new cars, these issues comprise between 20% and 25% of all reported malfunctions, while used cars exhibit similar patterns with mechanical errors arising more prominently due to wear and tear.

The aging fleet of vehicles on Belgian roads also fuels the demand for breakdown services. Over the years, the average age of cars has been on the rise, reaching more than 8 and less than 10 years—an increase that correlates with a growing need for vehicle assistance. This is further supported by the fact that Brussels hosts an older collection of cars compared to other regions, suggesting a higher potential demand for services in that area. Interestingly, Belgium holds a position within the top five concerning the lowest average ages of cars within the EU, where the average stands at more than 10 years. Accident rates and traffic trends are additional pivotal factors affecting the demand for car assistance services. While the number of accidents in Belgium has seen a downward trend with a decrease of approximately 15% from over 35,000 to less than 40,000 accidents, this doesn't necessarily translate to a decreased need for breakdown services.

The actual impact might be nuanced, as the type and severity of accidents, as well as people's proclivity to subscribe to towing insurances even if they rarely use them, play a significant role. The recent pandemic has also had a two-fold effect on the industry. On one hand, the substantial reduction in traffic and new car registrations, plummeting by more than 90%, have negatively influenced the demand for vehicle assistance. On the other hand, emerging issues such as battery problems caused by decreased usage and limited movement have the potential to spur demand. The search interest for breakdown services sharply reduced around the peak of COVID-19 restrictions, mirroring a potential decline in revenue for the sector during this period. Beyond the direct consumer demand, the structure of the industry, characterized by a multitude of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), plays a role in the market dynamics.

"Navigating the Competitors: Leading Forces in Belgium's Car Assistance Marketplace" As the car assistance service industry continues to evolve, several key players have established themselves at the forefront in Belgium. These companies not only provide critical services during vehicle breakdowns but also offer comprehensive insurance solutions to cater to various customer needs within this sector.

  • First on the list is AXA Belgium, an integral part of the AXA Group, which is a global leader in insurance. Known for its robust portfolio of insurance products, AXA Belgium has a significant presence in the car assistance market, offering customers peace of mind with its reliable roadside assistance packages and motor insurance policies.
  • Next is AG Insurance, Belgium's leading insurance company, which boasts a deep understanding of local consumer needs. AG Insurance provides a range of services, from car insurance to roadside coverage, ensuring that its clients are well-protected against the unexpected. Europ-assistance is another prominent name known for its dedication to helping customers in distress. This company has carved out a strong niche within the car assistance sector, offering extensive coverage that spans not only Belgium but also other parts of Europe. Their versatile plans cater to an array of vehicle assistance requirements, delivering timely and effective services round the clock.
  • Lastly, Touring is a reputed entity in the realm of road assistance, distinguished by its swift and efficient response to on-road emergencies. Touring's services are designed to meet the needs of travelers, ensuring their journeys remain uninterrupted, whether within city bounds or across borders.

Together, these companies play a crucial role in maintaining the momentum of the car assistance industry in Belgium. They remain the primary actors that consumers turn to in times of need, driving forward with a blend of traditional values and innovative solutions to serve an age-diverse vehicle landscape amidst the ebb and flow of regulatory changes and market demands.

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Summary and extracts

1 Market summary

1.1 Introduction and definition

Car breakdown assistance consists of repairing a vehicle at the place of intervention (or in a secure area nearby); most often it involves a simple mechanical intervention (fuel supply, modification of electronics, or tyre replacement). 

Globally, the industry is booming as cars are ageing and roadside assistance connectivity increases, which subsequently makes it easier to implement the service. 

In Belgium, towing and recovery is mainly carried out by specialised recovery companies, which are few in number and concentrated in highly urbanised areas. However, SMEs are facing competition to insurance companies who offer fixed prices per year for towing services. 

Finally, the car breakdown service industry has suffered severly in the last months in light of COVID-19 due to diminished car activity.

1.2 The global market is growing

Source: ****

In ****, the global vehicle assistance market was valued at $**.* billion; this value is expected to increase by a CAGR of *.*% until **** to reach $** billion. 

Amongst the key drivers of this market growth we find the fact that more cars are purchased in Europe in particular. Also, there is a rise ...

1.3 Steady growth in the domestic market

For this section we use the code NACE G*** "Maintenance and Repair of Motor Vehicles" to obtain Belgium's market size. Although this is not entirely dedicated to vehicle assistance per se, it still serves as a credible proxy for the market in general.

Source: ****

Since ****, the Belgian car maintenance and repair ...

2 Demand analysis

2.1 Demand drivers

In this section we aim to analyse why consumers request vehicle assistance in Belgium. Overall, the vehicle assistance industry is almost entirely dependant on events in the automotive industry, hence this is where we place emphasis when highlighting demand drivers below. 

Source: ****

The graph above depicts the claim frequencies of new ...

2.2 Accidents

Source: ****

An important metric to consider when valuing the evolution of the car assistance industry is the number of accidents that occur. Indeed, this correlates directly to the need of such services.

From the graph above we see a clear decrease in the number of accidents in Belgium in the last ...

2.3 Cars, trucks and traffic trends

Source: ****

The graph above depicts the evolution of car ownership in Belgium measured through % of households. There is a decrease, albeit small, of around *.*% between **** and ****. Nevertheless, the penetration rate remains high, and this development shouldn't worry car assistance companies. In other words, the decrease in % of household owning cars won't ...

2.4 COVID-19's impact on the industry

The global pandemic at its peak heavily diminished traffic. As of today in July, traffic is still not on par with levels before the pandemic. Consequently, the revenue of breakdown assistance has decreased accordingly. Below we dig deeper into what the potential consequences for the industry have been and what we ...

3 Market structure

3.1 Organisation of companies on the territory

In general, car assistance services can be divided into three segments:

Government and regional services Belgium is part of the EU. Thus, the citizens can benefit from the homogenous eCall system where dialing into this number will connect individuals to the closest breakdown service for no cost.  Flemish authorities have introduced ...

3.2 Company activity

Source: ****

The Belgian market for vehicle assistance is highly fragmented; in **** there were around *,*** companies. Indeed, since **** the number of firms in Belgium has hoovered around *,***-*,***.

Most players are SMEs and local players who hosts garages and repair services.

In particular, GoldenPages lists *** companies in Belgium which offer towing at ...

4 Analysis of the offer

4.1 Road assistance services in Belgium

Vehicle assistance consists of repairing at the place of intervention (***)

Towing consists of evacuate the vehicle and transfer it from the place of intervention to another site .

The towing and breakdown service is mainly carried out by specialized breakdown service companies in highly urbanized areas. These professionals carry out the breakdown ...

4.2 Price Analysis

Below is a price overview for companies in the car assistance insurance industry. Average price for accident/damage was €*,*** in ****. [***] To call towing services in case of breakdown on the street or highway, rtbf reports that the price is €*** (***) and €*** during the night. 

Source: ****

*prices as of July ****.

4.3 The motor is driving costs

The cost of repairing a car involves costs that depend on the intervention performed:

Towing costs: depending on the distance covered to the garage; Additional services; Depending on the place of detention: road, expressway, motorway; The possible supply of automotive parts; The time spent at the place of detention as well ...

5 Rules and regulations

5.1 Regulation

Belgium regulation around towing services can be found under code-de-la-route. 

Finally, Belgium answers under EU law as well. All guidelines can be found here.

6 Positioning of the actors

6.1 Segmentation

  • AXA Insurance (Belgium)
  • AG Insurance
  • Europ-assistance
  • Touring

List of charts presented in this market study

  • Size of the automotive assistance market
  • Taille du marché de l'entretien et la réparation des véhicules motorisés
  • Fréquence des réclamations par catégories (véhicules neufs)
  • Fréquence des réclamations par catégories (véhicules anciens)
  • Age moyen des voitures
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Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

AXA Insurance (Belgium)
AG Insurance
Europ-assistance
Touring

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Breakdown assistance Belgium | Belgium

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