From now on, IT company Netika has decided to exclude diesel cars from its fleet. Alphabet’s flexibility makes it possible for the company to set up a programme based entirely on electrical plug-in hybrid vehicles.
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Paul de Gheldere, Netika CEO, is a huge fan of cars. He keeps a close eye on the latest technological developments in the automotive industry. Following a comparative analysis, he and his company left the beaten path by retiring all diesel cars from the fleet. As a result, employees have also started driving plug-in hybrids from the BMW 2 Series (Active Tourer Hybrid 225xe) and BMW’s 100% electric i3s since May 2017.
Netika has a number of reasons for sticking to this one-of-a-kind approach.
1. A decline in CO2 emissions
Paul de Gheldere: ‘First and foremost we were interested in discontinuing diesel use. Transitioning to petrol could also have been an option but, due to tax exemptions, the usage costs (TCO = total cost of ownership) of rechargeable hybrid solutions are more or less at the same level as that of diesel cars. And that’s despite the higher lease rates. For that reason it only seemed logical to take this step, definitely because in this way our CO2 emissions are drastically reduced.’
2. Alphabet flexibility
‘Alphabet handled our request to switch over to electric cars incredibly quickly and efficiently. We were pleased with the performance and rates for part of our previous fleet, and we appreciated their flexibility when we let them know that we wanted to go electric. For instance, this is why we work with a system that allows us to exchange cars according to the number of kilometres listed on the odometer. To this end we use a price matrix based on the number of lease months and the maximum mileage, so that our fleet remains uniform at all times. Alphabet also understood our interest in possibly being able to hand in vehicles earlier.’
3. Drivers recognise added value
The employees took part in the new philosophy, and they’re doing well adapting to it. ‘They only have to accept a few limitations, since it involves more expensive, but also more powerful cars. It for this reason that we emphasised that they have to consider how they use this extra power carefully, and that they have to drive as efficiently as possible. As a result, from now on we also employ a consumption limit that may not be exceeded. Moreover, our employees opting for an i3 are able to make use of a ‘pool car’ (a 2 Series seven-seater Gran Tourer) when they go on holiday. It didn’t take them long to see the added value in our new policy, certainly because they can use our NeoFleet software.
4. Efficiency of NeoFleet-software
Netika designed NeoFleet and that’s worked out swimmingly. ‘It’s an online programme that allows us to monitor and optimise battery charging, but, for example, it also allows us to keep track of maintenance and the TCO of the cars. As soon as the car is connected to the charge point in the car park, the only thing left for the driver to do is register his or her arrival on the tablet and to enter his or her energy requirements and time of departure. Our employees can modify this data at any time using their smartphone. The system then optimises the charging process based on our operations. 100% electric cars take priority (because they don’t have an alternate source of energy). This system is all the more efficient in that we’ve decided to purchase as many charge points as there are cars. However, NeoFleet is also capable of working with a rotational programme should there only be a limited number of charge points available.’
‘It’s not complicated. We’ve also installed our own e-totems. These are charge points with an integrated cable that fits directly into the car’s connection point. At the time, these efficient and cheap (EUR 1,200 for two cars) charge points were the only ones of their kind. In addition, we developed a solution with Powerdale that uses the Hertz grid to collect information from the mobile charging stations at our employees’ homes. Neofleet reimburses our employees based on the charging sessions having been carried out at their homes.’
5. Cost price
The cost price of electricity use in no way forms an impediment. ‘Electricity is cheaper than traditional fuels. Moreover, we can rely on our solar panels with a considerable surface area of 1,500 m². In addition to this, NeoFleet keeps track of the number of hours of sunshine and schedules charging sessions based on the weather forecast. This has resulted in our five-year old building having been designed as passively as possible. We use geothermal power for our heating and recover heat from our server room. The ventilation system is automated and we collect rain water.’
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