"Excellent internal cooperation is key to successful fleet electrification"
The journey to an electric fleet can be a long one, but there is no doubt that it is worth making. By switching to electric vehicles (EVs), companies can significantly reduce their CO2 footprint and contribute to a more sustainable society. At ABB, that shift is already well underway, thanks to a clear roadmap and a highly professional team.
As part of its sustainability strategy 2030 and the company’s key target of reaching carbon neutrality in its own operations by 2030, ABB has committed to electrifying its entire vehicle fleet of more than 10,000 vehicles. Ricardo Koevoet, Procurement Team Lead Fleet Global at ABB, is a great example of a leader who is helping to drive success by defining a clear roadmap in the fleet electrification journey. The positive results of a strong vision and a good strategy can be seen in ABB’s global new vehicle orders in 2021 – 44 percent were for either electric vehicles or plug-in hybrid models.
Koevoet, who has played a key role in ABB’s fleet electrification efforts since 2014, was awarded the 2021 European Green Fleet Manager of the Year award for his contribution to the fulfilment of ABB’s ambitious fleet electrification target.
We asked Mr Koevoet what has made ABB’s strategy work so well so far. According to him, its success has been driven by excellent cooperation among different stakeholders across the company.
Could you tell us a little about your role in ABB? How many vehicles do you manage in Europe?
I'm the Global Category Team Lead for Fleet within ABB so I’m responsible for the procurement activities of our global fleet. ABB has several thousand vehicles on the road in more than 60 countries globally.
How did you discover the importance of electrification as early as 2014?
In 2014, we introduced PHEVs and EVs into our car policy in the Netherlands. At the time, ABB was already an early leader in EV charging infrastructure solutions focused on direct current (DC) fast-charging stations.
For ABB, it was clear in 2014 that transport electrification would gain momentum; it was just a question of when the big turnaround would take place. In those years, PHEVs and EVs benefitted from in kind taxation in the Netherlands. That was also why PHEVs were very popular with drivers, who were less keen on EVs because of their limited range. At ABB, we wanted as many PHEVs as possible to be driven electrically, so we introduced PHEVs and EVs into the car policy under certain conditions and always in combination with a home charger or public charging point in the driver's home area. We were waiting for EVs with a longer range, and for the local charging infrastructure in Europe to develop.
By 2019, new EV models were being introduced, and the charging infrastructure in many countries was being expanded, so we started a pilot in three countries to electrify a specific part of the fleet. With the launch of ABB’s sustainability strategy 2030 which includes a clear carbon neutrality commitment, fleet electrification has become one of the key drivers, especially after we have joined the Climate Group’s EV100 initiative last year.
What are the main steps in transforming 10,000 vehicles to electric by 2030?
If you need to electrify your fleet in different countries, a "one size fits all" approach does not work. You need policies or procedures that are appropriate for the markets in question; you cannot copy 1:1 from one country to another.
The first step is to define a clear country roadmap, depending on the maturity of the e-mobility market in each country. This is based on the following three items:
- Maturity of the EV market in a country;
- Maturity of the charging infrastructure in a country;
- Government incentives.
Once you have defined the country roadmap, you need to investigate what kind of fleet you have in the country to determine which part you can electrify immediately, and which part needs to wait a little longer.
When it comes to the car policy within the country concerned, you need not only to amend the country car policy but also update the workflows within HR and Payroll Systems.
Our facility management team is taking the lead on the charging infrastructure at ABB locations. Procurement takes care of supplier management regarding the leasing suppliers, OEMs and charging infrastructure. This requires a TCO analysis for the car policy updates as well as support for Facilities on the charging infrastructure at ABB locations. Of course, our own Electrification business, which is a world leader in EV charging infrastructure, is a key player in these projects. You have to define a clear goal with the right internal sponsors. Commitment and collaboration are the keys to success.
What have been the positive developments during the journey so far?
We have already made strong progress and kicked off the electrification journey in a lot of countries. In 2021, 44 percent of ABB’s global new vehicle orders were either for EVs or plug-in hybrid vehicles. I would like to underline that this is the result of excellent cooperation among different group functions, including Sustainability, HR, Procurement, Facilities and our four Business Areas – we could clearly see that there is a lot of enthusiasm across ABB around the topic of fleet electrification.
What are the biggest challenges you face in Europe in the fleet electrification strategy?
While there has been significant progress in developing Europe’s charging infrastructure – not least thanks to ABB’s own EV charging portfolio – we know that in several countries, further investment in public charging infrastructure is needed. In addition, we see a need to improve the charging experience when it comes to payments. Currently, we use multiple charge cards in certain countries to have as much coverage as possible. At the same time, we are hoping that more EVs will be launched including station wagons for our service engineers.
How did the pandemic and the supply shortage impact your green car policy?
We cannot hide the fact that the pandemic caused a change in travel behaviour. We quickly transitioned to homeworking, which had a direct impact on the mileage that our team members travelled but the need to invest in a more sustainable travel policy remained key.
As with other organizations, the semiconductor shortage has created challenges which for us resulted in some increased delivery times but overall the impact has been well managed.
How do you utilise telematics in your fleet, and what results have you gathered so far?
The number of countries where ABB's telematics has been fully implemented is limited. Telematics is linked to the privacy of the driver and while we see the potential for telematics to reduce TCO and CO2 emissions, and improve driver safety, this needs further investigation in the coming years.
Have your relations with suppliers changed since the beginning of the supply shortage?
The supply chain shortages are a challenge for all of us in the market and we want to make sure we work closely with our suppliers to find the best solutions. As a result of our fleet electrification journey, we have added more OEMs to our supplier base to give our teams the greatest choice of vehicles.
How open are you to alternative mobility solutions in your fleet?
In some countries, we are looking at ways to include alternative mobility solutions into our local policies. Today, the problem is that these are often local solutions that cannot be offered nationwide or in multiple countries due to tax reasons. Different providers offer these solutions, creating a complex landscape.
What is your outlook on the fleet industry in the coming years?
More EV models will be introduced with improved or new specifications regarding batteries, range and charging speed. In addition, significant investments have been promised in charging infrastructure that will make fleet electrification easier.
The main photo shows Ricardo Koevoet, Procurement Team Lead Fleet Global at ABB.
The in-article image shows the ABB Terra 360 EV charging station, courtesy of ABB.