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Fleet customers put EVs on the agenda

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Electric vehicles are top-of-mind for many organisations looking at upgrading their fleets, EV advocacy group Drive Electric says.

New Drive Electric board member Michelle Herlihy, who is also country leader for vehicle leasing company Custom Fleet, says EVs have captured the attention of big corporates, government agencies and small operators.

"I would say that in every single customer meeting, we’re having discussions about EVs.

"It’s not us putting that on the agenda, it’s the customer. For our colleagues in Australia, that’s not the case."

There are several different types of groups looking at getting into EVs, she says.

"For some, electric vehicles fit with the sustainability values of the business."

That priority is evident following a pledge from 30 organisations in 2016, including Custom Fleet, to upgrade at least 30% of their fleet to EVs by 2019.

Small and medium business owners are also interested in electrics, as are Custom Fleet’s government clients, Herlihy says.

"I think over the last 12 months there’s been a huge increase in interest. New Zealand seems to be a country of early adopters.

"It’s a sustainable model in terms of renewables. We’ve got a clean, green image in terms of sustainability."

However, switching to EVs remains at the conversation stage for many, with the range of vehicles available in New Zealand not suitable for everyone.

"Part of the problem for New Zealand at the moment is we don’t have a huge selection of vehicles. The Hyundai Ioniq is one of the most popular at the moment.

"Speaking with the manufacturers, they are keen to give us some more options.

"We expect there will be a lot more selection in 12 to 18 months. The more selection customers have, the more they feel like they’re making an informed choice."

Many customers are keen on SUVs, but options are limited right now, Herlihy says.

"More selection in that space would be quite popular.

"In some companies, a vehicle is a key attraction for employees to keep them and be able to offer that additional value-add."

New EVs set for release include the Hyundai Kona compact SUV, which will hit the market in August, while the Kia Niro compact SUV is also on the radar.

Other issues include upfront cost, which is higher than an internal combustion vehicle, range anxiety and concerns about battery life.

On the other hand, there are also those who see the immediate benefits of buying EVs.

"CFOs are really interested in the efficiencies EVs offer, including lower running and servicing costs, which is a positive."

Another option for businesses is to look at used EVs, although she says customers are mostly interested in new vehicles at the moment.

"The secondary market is going to be a little slow getting the stock customers might want to have available.

"Some discussions suggest used might be a better option to keep costs down. As a leasing company we do that, but typically our customers are looking for new models."

Drive Electric’s white papers are a fantastic resource for organisations or individuals that want to go electric, Herlihy says.

And she says it’s a privilege to have been recently appointed to the Drive Electric board.

"It’s a group that’s really well represented across industries that touch EVs.

"We get that collective view of what you see in the market."

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