Fleet Auto News’ Caroline Falls talks with Geoff Atkinson, business development manager at Everty, which provides software to fleets to manage EV charging. The full interview is published as a podcast on Spotify. They talk about fleets transitioning to electric vehicles and how Everty can help. This transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Caroline: Firstly, can you introduce us to Everty, what’s the spiel?
Geoff: We provide EV solutions to fleets. We’re unique in that we have developed our own software platform. It allows us to provide a complete package to clients so we can go in and provide the software to many different existing EV charging stations. We can work with the client to develop a complete turnkey solution.
Caroline: What about yourself? How long have you been with Everty? What’s your role entail?
Geoff: My background is intertwined with fleet management. I started with Custom Fleet many years ago. I’ve had my own fleet management company as an agent for LeasePlan for a number of years. I also spent 10 years working for automotive OEMs, which includes the Ford Motor Company, Mitsubishi Motors, and I was working in fleet sales within Ford and dealer management within Mitsubishi. So it all sort of comes together. I’ve been with Everty now for about six months. The current role, working with Everty has been a pinnacle, a combination of those experiences. I have a good understanding of what fleet managers need to do on a day-to-day basis, I understand the technology and what’s happening within the manufacturer world, having been there as part of the Outlander PHEV rollout across the Mitsubishi network, and then getting a great understanding of a very exciting space that is EV charging and supporting the brilliant technology that’s coming through in electric vehicles.
Caroline: Down to nuts and bolts, what hardware or software do you supply?
Geoff: As I mentioned earlier, Everty has a software program that gives the fleet manager control of charging stations. Fleet managers have gone through many changes in their careers as the industry’s evolved and this transition to an EV environment is part of that evolution.
Whereas fleet managers were obviously responsible for total cost of ownership, and making sure the vehicles were fit for purpose, and also working on negotiating the best deals on supplying those vehicles, they now are coming into contact with an area that is new to them, and understanding things like electric vehicle infrastructure and charging infrastructure, and then that has a crossover matrix with facilities management, so I think their role is becoming a whole lot broader.
What Everty tries to do with our software program is really give them the tools to be able to control those assets, to be able to monitor those assets so we can see the actual usage on an individual charging station. It allows us to monetise those charges as well. So in some environments, you want to make the charger public so that the public can use that to charge their vehicles as well as your own corporate vehicles being able to charge them.
So you need to work out a billing platform that provides that flexibility, and the Everty platform allows for that. Also in managing those assets, you need to be able to control them. So that ifthere is an issue you can reset the charger, or it might be actually taking that charger offline, or stopping it charge, or restarting a charge for a client.
One of the situations that a client has had is when an employee has gone to charge the vehicle, and used their RFID card to start the charger, then they’ve gone off to the coffee shop and for whatever reason they’ve lost their RFID card and had to leave but couldn’t disconnect the vehicle because it was connected to the charger. They were able to contact their fleet manager, and that fleet manager was able to go into that individual charger, stop the charge and disconnect the charge plugs, and the driver could go on their way.
So they’re the kind of tools that are incorporated within our software. It makes us unique. We’re completely agnostic with our software as long as the charger use OCPP [open charge point protocol], which is pretty much the standard protocol across most charges, our system can be integrated.
Caroline: When you approach a business, or they approach you, who do you talk to? I’m curious about the job function of that person, who has responsibility for bringing in the new infrastructure? Fleet management, technology, building or property management?
Geoff: Well, certainly as electric vehicles become more prevalent it is changing the way we interact with organisations. Traditionally, it was always fleet managers that had responsibility for motor vehicles, and everything that went along with the motor vehicle fleet within an organisation.
As I mentioned earlier, we’re finding out it is becoming more of a matrix arrangement with the introduction of electric vehicles. where obviously, the fleet manager is responsible for the selection of those vehicles but then the infrastructure that’s required to support those vehicles is including now your facilities manager.
Facility managers need to be aware of the chargers that are coming on board, that have to be integrated with their electrical system and building management system within a facility because as you start putting in chargers the last thing you want to do is actually brown out that building because you’ve drawn down too much electricity.
So we work with facilities managers, to understand the electrical capacity of a site. We put in place a management infrastructure as well as software on those chargers so they never go to a point of causing a situation where a building will lose electricity.
There’s also an HR element as well with staff becoming aware of electric vehicle technology and also the electric vehicle chargers, some organisations may be providing that for their employees, charging the minimum rate to do that, or it might be free, but they still need to keep a record of who’s using those chargers.
Caroline: So when a business transitions from ICE to EVs, and particularly those with fleets I’m concerned with, they’re used to grabbing a whole lot of data about fuel usage and mileage driven etcetera from their fuel car provider, and now where are they going to get that comparable info? From you? What data can they fetch from your service?
Geoff: With the Everty platform we do register all the transactions whether they’re a monetized transaction or not. A fleet manager, or the HR manager or accounts person, can see that data directly from our reporting system that’s available to the client.
In regards to motor vehicle mileage, and you’re dead right, traditionally with an ICE engine everyone’s familiar with a fuel card and they’d use that at a service station and put in their odometer reading.
That’s a little bit trickier at the moment with the technology on EV charging stations. We don’t literally have that technology for an odometer reading.
What we’re finding to fill that gap is a lot of clients are using the technology that you mentioned earlier, where they can actually get the live readings from the actual feed, so telematics is perhaps becoming more important as you start rolling out an EV fleet.
Caroline: Are other business sectors or professions are you targeting apart from fleet management?
Geoff: We are working with working with a Tier One fleet management company at the moment in working in integrating our system into their fleet management software and the service that they can provide to their clients. We also are dealing with an array of organisations. We are dealing with a lot of property organisations. Charter Hall is one of our our significant partners and we’re working with them in rolling out electric vehicle charging stations within their buildings, and tailoring our services to what their tenants need. So each one of the tenants has a different unique requirement. With our software we’re able to manage and tailor the service to their needs. So it’s a very broad matrix that we’re dealing with. It is certainly a lot of fleet managers that we’re talking to, but also to this facility property managers as well.
Caroline: Now as an old guy in the Australian EV industry — that is EVERTY is five years old, can you maybe give a few pointers for fleet managers who are about to embark on the EV journey how to find their way in an industry that’s new and jumping with new players?
Geoff: I think within the Australian industry, in my experience with dealing with fleet managers, I think the basic skills and techniques that fleet managers apply when they’re looking at total cost of ownership and fit for purpose are still basic skills that need to be applied when they’re looking at transitioning to an electric vehicle.
The vehicle has to be appropriate for the use that it’s intended. Also, fleet managers now need to be aware of what government support is available to them. In New South Wales, we’ve got a very strong incentive program that the government has put in place. There’s also federal programs.
In calculating the real cost of acquisition of an electric vehicle, there’s a lot more things that fleet managers now need to look at.
And then you add to that, what we’re talking about today, is the actual EV charging technology. It’s certainly changing very fast. There’s a broad range of suppliers in the market as EVs become commonplace. We’ve reached that tipping point within the industry where it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when and there’s a lot of players who come into the Australian market.
Caroline: You mention that Everty is hooked up with some long-established brands like Tritium, the Brisbane-based battery charger supplier. Can you tell about who you are associated with?
Geoff: Everty made a decision at the start to partner with and work with Tier One equipment suppliers. The reason we do that is we ensure that when we’re working with a client, that we’re recommending and providing infrastructure that is there to support them for the long term.
So in the unforeseen circumstance that there is an issue a year or two down the track, that the supplier is there to to provide backup warranties, to provide service, and to provide maintenance. That’s critical for us.
So you’re right we’ve got a number of different suppliers that we’re working, including Schneider Electric, ABB, Delta, and as you mentioned, Tritium, We’re also always looking to see who’s coming into the marketplace as well with new technologies and we’ll look at new suppliers and to certifiy that equipment to make sure that it operates with our software system or platform to ensure that it’s a complete package that we’re delivering to a client.
Caroline: It’s always nice to end on an upbeat note and I know you are excited to be part of this industry as it fans out? In your own words, how excited are you and do you see Australia catching up in this space anytime soon?
Geoff: Exactly. Caroline, I don’t think there’s any more exciting space to be. As I mentioned earlier there’s a combination of my fleet management and my fleet-based experience within a manufacturer and now to be a part of I guess it’s fair to say a once in a generation change.
I mean, we’ve seen many changes within the automotive industry as fleet managers. We’ve seen the transition to different fuel types, from petrol to diesel to LPG, and a few of your fleet managers listening today will possibly remember those transitions that they had to go through.
We saw the change too as fleets shifted from passenger vehicles to SUVs. Now this transition is a very significant change as we move away from ICE engines to electric vehicles.
I feel incredibly fortunate to be working with Everty. We’re very dynamic and an incredibly experienced team. And being able to deliver as part of Everty a first-class service to fleet managers and to the industry. We’re always here to help and support and provide information and education. That is a critical part of our role — helping to educate the industry and we welcome any of your listeners to make contact with Everty. We’re more than happy to help them.
Caroline: I’m glad you raised that point. That’s what it’s all about at the moment. This show too is about helping to educate all the people that are within our industry. And I share your excitement and I just want to say thank you for being with us today Geoff and I wish you all best.
Geoff: Thanks, Caroline and thank you very much for the effort you put into putting your shows together. They’re a great benefit to the industry. And everybody’s very proud and very happy to be a part of that.
— Caroline Falls has been contributing to Fleet Auto News since 2015. She cis a freelancer and can be contacted at email@example.com