17 Nov 20

Fleet Europe Summit: “ICE or BEV? The question won’t exist anymore in three years’ time”

The sky is the limit for connected e-mobility. Of this creed are convinced Polestar’s CEO Thomas Ingenlath (pictured right) as well as Geotab’s founder and CEO, Neil Cawse (pictured left), who engaged in an interesting discussion at today’s virtual Fleet Europe Summit.

When two charismatic CEOs of two inspiring and aspirational companies meet, people stop and listen. Even if it’s in a virtual set-up. Thomas Ingenlath immediately set the tone in reply to moderator Steven Schoefs’ introductory question: “In three to four years’ time, people will no longer ask the question whether a BEV is more expensive than an ICE-powered car. ICE vehicles will become more expensive as they have to meet ever more stringent emission regulations. At the same time, battery prices will come down. Also, residual values of ICE and BEV will switch places. Today, Polestar already has strong RVs thanks to what sets us apart: the fact that we know how to build quality vehicles.” It was unclear whether Polestar’s CEO was hinting at Tesla.

That doesn’t do away with the fact that today, BEVs need subsidies to offer a TCO that is lower than or at least on a par with combustion engine cars. “When will they become a natural choice?” was Steven Schoefs follow-up question. “It’s all about sustainability. You have two choices: subsidising BEVs or punishing ICE. Subsidies as such are not bad. They make sustainable mobility affordable. It is my conviction that BEVs will represent a double-digit market share in two years from now,” replied Mr Ingenlath.

“Also, there are a lot of myths about charging. With a proper EV [with a substantial battery; editor’s note] you do not have to charge as frequently as with a PHEV. Also, with a clever network you can charge many vehicles simultaneously. Once you have experienced EV driving, you will realise charging is not such an issue. Also, let’s not forget that BEV batteries are crucial for the smart grid and can be monetised.”

Open up and connect

Which brings us to connectivity and how it can do away with practical hurdles while maximising efficiency. According to Neil Cawse, the founder of global telematics company Geotab, the role of connectivity in efficient electric mobility cannot be underestimated. “Telematics are vital if you own an EV. First of all, telematics enables you to draw up an accurate picture of which vehicles of your current fleet can be changed by EVs – and which requirements they have to meet in terms of range and charging. Telematics make EV driving workable, also in terms of charging planning.”

Industries are afraid of sharing ideas and best practices, Steven Schoefs postulated. “But not Geotab: you believe an open ecosystem is vital. Why?” he asked Neil Cawse. “In the old world, everybody wanted to do everything themselves and keep their secrets to them. Today, companies are focusing on their core business, doing what they do best, and outsource what is not their expertise. That is why collaboration is necessary. Customers want choice of products and they want standards. That is what we provide,” was his reply.

Polestar is on the same page and sees cross-industry collaboration as key to offer the best possible customer experience. “It took some internal convincing within our parent company Volvo, but Polestar made the decision to not develop its own infotainment but choose the best possible partner. We made the right choice by integrating Android Automotive,” Thomas Ingenlath explained.

Finally, Neil Cawse promised a tantalising 2021 thanks to the astonishing simplicity with which fleets can harvest data as new cars come with factory-fitted connectivity. Indeed, only the sky is the limit.




Authored by: Dieter Quartier