A view from the top

The Business EV market

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Earlier this month, I sat down with FleetPartners Director Dennis Kelly to get his take on the electric vehicle revolution and the effect it is having on New Zealand businesses in 2023.

When asked what he likes most about electric vehicles, his response was immediate: “The stand-out for me is the quality of the vehicles, the fit and finish, and the design – the technology is absolutely leading edge.”

“As for driving one, well they are incredibly quick and handle extremely well – they are absolutely state-of-the-art vehicles; we are pretty much all in BEVs in our business now, and no-one is itching to go back to a petrol.”

Coming from an unashamedly self-confessed petrol-head, that is quite an admission.

His advice to anyone curious about EVs: “Get in one and drive it for a reasonable period of time, not just around the block.” He also points out that some of the hang-ups we had even a year ago, like EV pricing and range-anxiety, are diminishing fast.

I put some questions I had recently been asked to Dennis Kelly:

Q: Are EVs a realistic practical option for most small to medium sized businesses right now?

A: “To answer that question I’d begin by asking the business owner what sort of kilometres they do each day (business or private) and the type of vehicle usage. If the answer falls within 200-300 kilometres per week, then an EV is usually going to meet their requirements easily, possibly even up to double that range, without any charge concerns.

“The cost of EVs is coming down, almost month by month, with new supply arriving and upgraded models available. Cost is coming down, quality is going up, and range is getting longer.”

As a result, he says electric is ‘absolutely’ a practical option for many New Zealand businesses. He points out however that at this time an exception is those doing high kilometres in remote locations.

Q: In respect of limitations for utes and heavier commercial vehicles, do you expect to see much progress in the next year or two?

A: “There will be viable options in the ute space, well within two years – probably more hybrid than full Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV). We anticipate this will be driven by mainstream suppliers like Ford and Toyota.

“In the van space we expect even quicker movement to full-blown electric, principally because in Europe vans are more popular than utes, so there are van options available even now from European manufacturers like Ford, Renault and LDV.

“Within the next two years we’ll see range with capacity to carry greater loads extended.”
He notes that advances in battery storage technology are driving the progress which he likens to the revolution in mobile phones, where initially a day’s charge could provide 15 minutes talk-time, compared to nowadays where we rarely even think about it. He predicts that in the next 3-5 years there will be further significant advancement in battery technology, with talk of manufacturers moving away from lithium-ion to solid state.

Q: Why should businesses consider leasing vehicles, rather than buying them outright or financing them?

A: “Businesses should make money from the use of vehicles, not from owning them.

“What leasing brings to the table is fixed monthly costs, making budgeting super easy; it’s tax deductible (where used solely for business purposes) and there’s less risk from a maintenance perspective if something were to go wrong. At FleetPartners, we’re responsible for all that: maintenance, tyres, servicing and repairs, registration renewals as well as a host of other services such as roadside assist, accident management and discounted fuel cards. As a package, leasing is an attractive option.

“Buying outright, in an industry where technology is advancing as quickly as EVs, is dangerous. Because FleetPartners buys 350-400 vehicles per month and we have great networks for service and repair work, you’re tapping into a robust supply chain that’s been 45 years in the making – the advantage of that shows through in our pricing.”

Having recently spent time behind the wheel of an EV, I have to agree with Dennis’ advice: if you haven’t done so yet, get in one and have a drive – you won’t look back.

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Alan Neben
Alan Neben
Alan Neben is a Mount Maunganui local and experienced New Zealand publisher. His columns provide a light-hearted perspective on social changes effecting New Zealanders

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