International fleets need local timelines to electrify vehicles
Novartis, Fujifilm and MSD unveil net zero fleet plans at the Global Fleet Conference.
Global fleets looking to electrify their vehicles need to establish local timelines, regardless of international corporate commitments to become carbon net zero, according to decision makers at three of the world’s biggest companies.
While the three corporations are fully committed to sustainability goals, the infrastructure in individual countries to support plug-in vehicles varies widely, leaving nations and regions on different trajectories to switch to electric power trains.
Multinational pharmaceutical business Novartis has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2025, but has separated the 79 countries where it operates into three groups depending on their readiness for electric vehicles. The first wave of electrification is already underway in Europe, North America and China, with the objective of achieving net zero status by 2025, said Laszlo Kiss, Global Category Manager Fleet, Novartis.
But with 26,000 company cars worldwide, he acknowledged that other regions would follow later, with 16 countries, including central America, Japan and Australia electrifying by 2030; and Latin America, Africa, much of Asia Pacific and Russia not plugging in until 2040. Novartis will look to offset its CO2 emissions from these markets until it can transition its fleet.
“Just because we have this objective doesn’t mean we can go to every country and start giving electric cars to everybody,” said Kiss.
Electrification process leads to more efficient fleet management
With a mandate from the very top of the corporation to achieve net zero status, he is using the electrification program to improve the overall fleet management set-up of Novartis. This has included bringing in a global fleet standard centred on sustainability, with a global RFP prioritising suppliers that could help the company with its electrification journey.
Internally, Novartis built a sustainability steering committee to drive forward its green fleet plan, creating a cross-functional global team that covered all departments with an interest in fleet (P&O/rewards, employee relations, real estate and facility services, environmental sustainability, communications, finance and procurement).
“We built a similar implementation team in countries as well, and asked local CEOs to nominate a country sponsor to lead the programme,” said Kiss.
Overall, he added, up to 500 people internationally have been involved in designing and delivering the zero emission program.
Keeping drivers positively engaged with this environmental strategy has also been vitally important.
“With change management it’s not enough to have the right objective, right suppliers and right processes – we also need to bring company car drivers with us and explain why we were doing what we were doing,” said Kiss.
Having launched the programme in 2020, Novartis already has 4,200 low emission vehicles delivered or on order, and has saved 9,300 tonnes of CO2, equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 153,776 trees.
Fujifilm aims for 2030s
Sustainability is a keen topic of conversation in North America, even if the continent lags behind the progress made in Europe, according to Jim Petrillo, Fleet Manager, Fujifilm North America.
Less than 1% of his 1,600-strong fleet is hybrid or plug-in hybrid, due to a lack of infrastructure and cost, although he expects this to change soon.
“Following recent bills passed by the federal government we hope there will be a lot more infrastructure that will let us put drivers in electric vehicles, but we are looking into the 2030s, not the 2020s,” said Petrillo.
MSD goes hybrid then EV
It’s a similar picture further south, where David Trujillo, Regional Manager Lead for LatAm, MSD, said the company had an ambitious objective to move its fleet to hybrid by 2025, although its pace of change has been delayed by the shortage of new cars.
“The idea is to move to EVs from 2025 and reach 2030 with 100% of the fleet as EVs. It’s ambitious because the infrastructure isn’t there yet,” he said. “I’m seeing fast growth in some countries, so I think it’s possible.”