Firstly, because it’s so new, I think it’s important that you tell us when and why the Charge Together Fleets initiative was established? Even though I hope many of our readers would have heard of it, let’s go over the main details of the initiative
We were lucky enough to get funding through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to do a project a couple of years ago to understand the barriers to the adoption of electric vehicles in fleets. Through that program we identified quite a lot of barriers — information gaps around things like residual values and understanding whole-of-life costs. Other things included having to appoint consultants and feeling that cost would be a barrier. So, through that process we published a report which you can see of . Then talking to the CEO of the EV council Behyad Jafari, we cooked up this idea — Charge Together Fleets. The idea was to focus all the efforts that had been started by AfMA and IPWEA and the Cities Power Partnership and come up with something useful for our various constituents. We all worked together to create a set of resources that would fill those knowledge gaps — regular webinars for education for training; a very detailed whole-of-life calculator. Those things are now live and ready and you can see them on our website .
Who are some of the other partners or backers of this initiative?
NRMA, NSW Government, Ausgrid, SA Government.
One thing the horrible bush fire season of 2019-2020 has highlighted is air quality. I’ve been concerned for years and wrote about air quality a few years back for a national publication and I realised then few Australians cared about it. Australia is big and its skies were blue and it just didn’t seem to worry many. Just look at the take up of diesel in cities in recent years. What do you think about air quality as an argument for EVs, not just carbon emission reduction?
As your readers might know, while we have blue skies in Australia, I think Australia has the worst transport emissions in the developed world. With the bushfires, people are becoming more alert to the fact that there is an air-quality issue. We do have air-quality days where it does affect people, not only with asthma, but also over time children and others. I think a lot of the fleet managers that read your publication will understand that it is not just the pollution we see above cities, but also the pollution of trucks or a passenger vehicle when it is started in a confined space. From an employee-safety perspective, if you have a big depot and you have trucks coming in an out that is local pollution.
Another thing that’s interesting to discuss is EV prices compared with traditional ICE vehicles? Many argue the EV take up in Australia is poor because of the price tag of a new vehicle. Is there a case for companies to pay the higher upfront cost for an EV, because the running cost and therefore whole-of-life costs will be lower? Please talk about prices and costs, something dear to the heart of any business?
There’s no question that at the moment in Australia electric vehicles are more expensive up front, but when you get into EVs as you did with hybrids, it does become a whole-of-life cost issue. Fleet managers are always alive to that whole-of-life question. The better-fleets tool helps the fleet manager look at various scenarios where an EV will work. It’s completely configurable in that you can change prices and change all the things that a fleet manager needs to think about. All you do is look at the costs — where it will work —the more kilometres will obviously have a better payback. Also you can keep your vehicles for longer, there’s much less wear and tear. There’s lots of dynamics you can play with to find opportunities for where they will work.
Can you tell us about your other work at Evenergi?
My business is essentially in the area of e-mobility for fleets, and how we can help the future facing fleet managers and also sustainability managers face the challenges that are coming, not only from mobility but from shared mobility and all the things that are coming through. For us the big thing is awareness so the fleet community becomes comfortable with these new things and can have their own tools to decide. There’s a really great opportunity to improve efficiency and environmental performance of fleets and we hope to work with lots of fleets to help them get there.
One thing I haven’t asked yet, but I’m curious about is the enthusiasm you see among fleet managers for the Charge Together Fleet service in I guess what we would still call its early days. Can you talk about that?
We’ve had a fantastic response to the tool primarily because we have collaborated with the fleet community in building it. At the moment there are about 300 fleets using the tool. A lot of those are larger fleets — government fleets. It is sometimes harder to get to the smaller fleets, so we are still trying to work out how to get to those. We have a target this year of thousands of fleets so we really want get more and more people using it.
Caroline Falls is a freelance reporter, writing for Australian and international business publications. She can be contacted at email@example.com.