• Climate hub
  • 20 Jan 2022
  • 4 min read

How to switch your business fleet to electric

By Kirsten Corson

Zilch electric vehicle
Zilch electric vehicle

Keen to ditch your gas-guzzling fleet for EVs?

Kirsten Corson of Zilch, an EV mobility as a service, has some advice on how to make the change smooth for your staff and your business.

Switching your business car fleet to EVs is not so much a transition, as a rebuild. And as with any successful construction project, it’s all in the planning.

And if your fleet comes out smaller than when you began, that’s a good thing

Around 40 percent of a company’s carbon footprint comes from its vehicle fleet, and businesses are responsible for purchasing 70% new cars sold in New Zealand. These cars spend about 20 years on our roads. So, the fleet decisions your business makes this year will affect New Zealand for the next two decades. If you’re dreaming of a row of pretty EVs out the front of your building, the country thanks you.

Step 1: Win hearts and minds

The creation of an electric fleet starts with winning the hearts and minds of staff, particularly the bosses.

The introduction of EV’s will be discussed at every level of the business from the boardroom to the water cooler. Fleet changes are often not popular so it’s important the CEO and executive team are on board and prepared to lead from the front.

Arrange a drive trial with a company like Zilch so the executives can talk about their positive experience and help lead the transition.

Then put together a team of internal stakeholders - procurement, HR, property, marketing, sustainability, legal and finance. Changing your fleet affects multiple parts of the business - that’s why it takes resolute leadership to bring together capable staff with a shared goal.

Step 2: Reduce the size of your fleet

If you can rationalise your fleet, introducing EV’s can be a cost neutral exercise. Work with your GPS fleet data and staff to understand your fleet’s movements – how your cars are being used, when, where and by whom.

New Zealand has the highest rate of car ownership in the OECD so it’s no surprise that many companies have too many cars. The utilisation rate of the average car is less than 5% - you wouldn’t hire staff to sit around doing nothing for 95% of the time. It’s not the smartest use of capital. So, look for opportunities to reduce your fleet size.

With the C-suite onboard you can look at removing carparks and company cars from salary packages and incentivise staff to adopt other forms of mobility, such as E-bikes and public transport.

Genesis did this when the company moved its head office at the end of 2020. It replaced company cars and carparks with a 25% subsidy for public transport, carpool hubs in South and West Auckland, a free shuttle service from the eastern suburbs, and with top end bike parking and changing facilities to encourage staff to ride, run or walk to work. As a result, the company saw a 50% increase in people taking public transport or using EVs, 102% increase in biking, running, walking or e-scootering to work, 81% of staff have signed up to the public transport subsidy and there are 984 less carbon contributing trips each week, a reduction of 71%. Staff have collectively reduced carbon emissions by 158t per annum, so far. When staff need to use a car, they access Zilch’s EV car share service.

Step 3: Plan your charging infrastructure

Before you get to the fun part of choosing which EVs you want to buy, think about how you’re going to charge them. At Zilch our mantra is ‘right chargers, right place, right time, right price’.

Talk to your landlord about installing charging infrastructure well in advance of needing to do it. The work you’ve done at step 2 to assess your fleet’s movements will help you figure out what kind of chargers you require and where they should be installed. Charging infrastructure is a big investment, so you want to get it right.

There are Worksafe guidelines that need to be adhered to for EV charger installation so make sure you familiarise yourself with those on www.worksafe.govt.nz.

By the time you’ve done this groundwork, you’ll know how many EVs you need and what kind they should be. If you need help along the way, companies like Zilch are here to help.

Make a booking with Zilch

One final thought - businesses play a critical role creating New Zealand’s second-hand EV market. So you’re not only helping the country today, your purchases will continue to pay sustainable dividends into the future.

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