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Ten tips for businesses who want to transition their company fleets to electric vehicles

One of Meridian's EVs.

More and more businesses are considering going down the road of electric vehicles. While it’s a good way to show business leadership on climate change, reduce emissions, and help create the critical mass of demand necessary to truly launch the EV market in New Zealand, it’s not quite as simple as replacing your company fleet with EVs and installing a few plugs. Here, some of New Zealand's biggest corporates and members of the Climate Leaders Coalition, such as Meridian, Spark, Orion and Westpac, share what they've learnt when it comes to transitioning their corporate fleets into EVs. 

1. Do a stocktake of your fleet.

“Before you start, you need to understand what company vehicles you’ve got and how they are used, what type of vehicles you need for your business that can realistically be an EV, and if it’s a leased fleet, when do the leases expire so you can identify which vehicles you can convert to EVs and start talking to the property team and landlords early.” – WSP​ Opus.

2. Research how your employees are using your fleet.

“We accumulated fuel usage and odometer data over six months to help us build up a picture of when, where, who and how our fleet was being used. We then worked with finance, properties and other teams to refine our thoughts on which sites might be right for EVs, based on vehicle use, infrastructure requirements and staff feedback. For instance, EVs are great for our mobile mortgage managers who frequently travel around our branch network. On the other hand, we ruled out EVs for our agri-business managers who need to travel longer distances to visit clients in remote locations.” – Westpac.

3. Involve your staff from the beginning.

“Taking our staff on the journey with us has been really important. We gave our employees the opportunity to test drive the vehicles and will continue to do this as we expand our fleet. We are continuing to refine, learn and understand the benefits that electric vehicles bring to our community.” – Spark.

4. Shop around.

“There’s increasingly a wider range of electric vehicles out there, with new vehicles being rolled out all the time. There is an electrified vehicle out there to accommodate most needs – for instance, we are just about to roll out our first hybrid-electric SUV and we expect to offer hybrid or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles across our entire model range by around 2025.” – Toyota.

5. Don’t underestimate the challenges of charging infrastructure at your premises.

“The property side of things has the potential to trip you up. If you lease a building, talk to your landlord early on to establish who pays for the installation of chargers as they may have a service life longer than the length of your lease. Also don’t forget to check if the building can cope with the additional power usage! Sometimes a switchboard and/or wiring upgrades are required. New Zealand Post, with the assistance of EECA, is currently developing a charger installation checklist that our site managers can use to easily assess the costs of installation. We will make this available for all property managers to use.” – NZ Post.

6. Pick the right chargers.

“We’ve released a how-to guide to make it easier for businesses to switch to EVs. Our number one tip is to install chargers that meet local and global standards to ensure they are compatible with a wide range of EVs now and into the future. Our guide also includes best practice advice for installing EV chargers, safety and cost saving tips, and how to protect the integrity of the building’s electricity supply.” – Vector.

7. Research public charging infrastructure.

“If your company cars are doing road trips often you’ll need to make sure there’s public charging infrastructure available. The success of our EV programme was dependent on a lot of public charging infrastructure being available on a key route from Christchurch to Twizel. We kept pretty close to Alpine Energy and ChargeNet to understand when the charging stations were going live. And there are now eight public chargers on that route!” – Meridian.

8. Don’t’ forget about home charging

“If you’re going to roll out EVs to employees, consider how vehicles will be charged when they are away from a corporate building. Will travel times need to include charging times en-route? Will you expect employees to charge their vehicles at home and if so, who pays to install a home charger and for the power consumption? It’s important to be clear on this from the start.” – Orion.

9. Think beyond electrifying company cars.

“Electric bikes and scooters are becoming more popular to help citizens connect to public transport and complete short trips. Think about adding other electric modes like bikes, buses, vans and trucks as sustainable and viable options to your electric fleet.” – Auckland Council.

10. Do the maths.

“When you do the numbers, you realise you’re paying more for an EV upfront, but with a 30c/litre equivalent for fuel, no emissions and less maintenance over the life of the vehicle it soon adds up. With over 487 EV manufacturers in China alone, the upside is significant and we encourage our customers to grasp the future and take a long-term view.” – Energy TS.

The Climate Leaders Coalition is a group of 87 businesses (and counting) who have committed to take voluntary action on climate change.

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