– By Marc Sibbald –
This is a story about a blind referral and two little electric vehicles that started an electric revolution for global mining solutions and parts company Bradken.
It started with a internal introduction to Origin Energy from a colleague. Initially Margaret White, Procurement Business Partner at Bradken, who manages a fleet of 250 vehicles globally didn’t even want the meeting. She was persuaded by her colleague to take the meeting and listened to the pitch on electric vehicles.
“I’m not ashamed to admit that I was the toughest critic of electric vehicles at first,” says White. “But after I took the time to investigate and research, I could see the time had come to start learning more about them and understanding how they would work in our business.”
Bradken operates in a diverse range of conditions and many employees spend time in regional areas and on mine sites. The EVs currently available in Australia today are not a perfect fit for their business however they saw an opportunity to run a trial that would introduce staff to electric vehicles in a structured way.
After conducting some thorough research, and asking Origin Energy plenty of questions about their EV solution, White prepared a business case that was accepted internally by management and put them on a path to reducing their fleet emissions.
Bradken now has two Hyundai IONIQ electric cars which have been leased through Origin Energy for 18 months. Every team member with a company car is being given a chance to drive one. They are based in the Newcastle and Brisbane offices and they are allocated to staff members for a minimum of one week and they keep their existing vehicle as well.
This approach avoids any confrontation with drivers about the suitability of an EV for their work duties or home situation. Employees can drive the IONIQ for work or give it their partner to drive. It’s a soft approach that gives everyone a taste and doesn’t force it into the fleet.
Each employee is required to complete a survey after the test drive with a separate one for family members if they also spent time in the car. This is providing Bradken with valuable feedback that it can use when making future decisions about new fleet vehicles in the future.
“So far the feedback has been positive. Everyone loves driving the cars and the only concerns have been around range,” says White. “I spent some time in one car over Christmas and had some reservations about driving too far from home. The second time I was driving it I felt a lot more comfortable about the range and recharging.”
Origin’s EV solution includes a charging station with every vehicle which once installed remains with the business. White believes this is a great benefit to Bradken because the more cars they purchase, the more charge points they will have at the office locations or in employee homes.
“Having a charge station in the Brisbane office is a good signal to our customers and staff,” believes White. “Everyone will be driving EVs soon so having the infrastructure installed early will encourage more people to think about taking the leap.”
Bradken is a large energy user because of its core business manufacturing business so reducing emissions is a long term challenge. The successful EV trial has changed the approach for all asset purchases. Now, every replacement for a diesel or petrol powered asset is reviewed against an electric option. This will provide some immediate opportunities to reduce carbon emissions across the business.