11 oct 23

Fest Auto, Leslie Tan: Offering e-LCV solutions for Latam fleets

For Leslie Tan who is co-founder and general manager in Latin America for Fest Auto, the Singapore-based electric vehicle manufacturer not only provides e-LCVs, but it is an overall solution provider for those in the urban mobility and last-mile delivery industry.

During the 2023 Fleet LatAm Conference in Mexico City in late September, I had a few minutes with the executive who explained the company’s full-rounded approach and plans for expansion in Latin America.

You were telling me that you are more than just a vehicle provider.  What do you mean by that?

Tan: Besides providing the vehicles themselves, I’d say that we are more like a solution provider for the urban delivery market. This is much like telecom or IT, an industry which I had worked in for many years, which has both hardware and software.

As for Auto Fest, the vehicles are like hardware, but behind the hardware is the processing of data such as how many miles you are running, driving habits, energy consumption, and vehicle location. On top of that, specific algorithms are needed to improve the efficiency of the work and to make your fleet more intelligent. We offer all of this to the market.

So, in this sense, we can be compared to the cell phone industry which has hardware, software, applications, data crunching, and algorithms.

Could you tell me a little bit about the vehicles you offer?

Tan: The first model we launched in France, Turkey, and Chile was called the E-Box M, a medium-sized electric-powered van with 5.3m3 of cargo space and a range of 270km.

We also have two more vehicles we are testing out with different customers. One is a minivan called the E-Box S which has 1.5m3 of cargo space and 220km of range, and the other is an open bed mini truck with 4.4 m3 cargo space and a range of some 200km.

However, with that said, we need to make a study to see exactly what profile of vehicle you need for your operations. We can customize our vehicles to your needs.

Fest E-Box M (courtesy of Fest)

Ok, so customers need to have a fleet made up of vehicles they actually need, something which calls for a total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis.  You do that too, right?

Tan: Yes, in terms of TCO, considering the CAPEX or to say the initial investment is important but remember that we also need to keep OPEX in mind. CAPEX is easy to understand, and it usually involves a gasoline vehicle being much cheaper than the electric vehicle in the beginning.

However, for fleets which are delivering things - especially in Latin America and Europe – you must consider the operational cost per kilometer as an e-LCV is much lower than an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. Overall maintenance on an e-LCV is much lower too.  

Another thing to pay attention to is Return on Investment (ROI) which is much shorter for urban delivery operations than let’s say a passenger car. Commercial vehicles usually need to run a daily minimum of 100-200km so the more you run, the faster the ROI.  

So, while the overall cost of EVs for passenger vehicles may not yet be cheaper than an ICE vehicle, you are saying that electrification already pays off in the LCV market, right?

Yes, we have done different calculations with several potential customers in Chile and Mexico. If Latam customers deploy fleet configurations based only on what they need, ROI can be seen very shortly, likely less than three years.   

Look at three things: Cargo Capacity, Range, and Motor Power (more for mountainous regions), and then do not acquire more than what you need.

Although your global headquarters is in Singapore, your Latam headquarters is in Santiago de Chile. What Latam expansion plans can we expect in the coming months or years?

Tan: Our Latam headquarters is in Chile but depending on how business goes, we could have head offices in more than one Latam country in the future.  For now, we are kicking off offices in Costa Rica and Mexico with the help of sales and aftersales networks. In 2024, we will also start the process of opening our office in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Moreover, we are in talks with dealers in some countries and preparing different model offerings. Of course, we are open to discussing business with any companies throughout the region in need of our solutions.

Authored by: Daniel Bland