Running costs savings exceed best expectations
Ohomairangi Trust purchased six electric vehicles for staff to use for home visits and family transport, decreasing their running costs and freeing up funds for their whānau-based services. The project received co-funding from the Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund.
About the journey
Ohomairangi Trust is a kaupapa Māori early intervention service based in Māngere, Auckland. The Trust’s staff help families in the community by providing parent training courses, transport, meals, and childcare.
Some vehicles in the Trust’s petrol vehicle fleet were getting old and needed renewal. The team felt that an electric fleet was a great option for reducing their carbon footprint and exploring the potential to cut running costs. What’s more, electric vehicles (EVs) would work perfectly for the short urban trips that make up most of the home visits and whānau transportation.
Following advice from GVI and Blue Cars, The Trust purchased six EVs: two used Nissan Leaf cars, a new Hyundai Ioniq car and three used Nissan eNV200 vans. Opting for used vehicles for the majority of the fleet helped the Trust keep purchase costs down.
The 80-120km range of the Leafs and vans is ideal for the Trust’s teachers, therapists, and specialists to use for urban home visits and transporting clients to their courses. The 200km range of the Ioniq also means that staff can share their expertise in other regions.
The vans allow the Trust to transport families too. Two were fitted out with extra seats to allow up to seven people in each van, accommodating whanau with a number of children.
Transport Co-ordinator, Robert van Ruyssevelt, says “it’s important to get staff onside.” To make the transition to EVs as smooth as possible, Robert created his own driver training manual and trained each staff member individually.
The Trust had two chargers installed at the office and to help easy range anxiety, staff were also encouraged to make use of ChargeNet’s PlugShare app, which lists public charging points around the city.
The EVs are running well and, as hoped, have significantly reduced the Trust’s running costs. Petrol was a key rising expense for The Trust, totalling $1000-2000 each month. Now, Robert says they spend “virtually nothing,” even on charging.
He puts this down to the team being clever with charging, with staff making use of local free public chargers as often as they can and charging the vehicles overnight at home.
The savings don’t stop there. The Trust no longer has to pay road user charges for the electric vehicles and servicing and registration has only cost an average of $186 per vehicle each year, which is less than the petrol equivalent. There has also been an “absolute lack of maintenance costs, with no tune-ups, cambelts or oil changes needed.”
The unfamiliar technology and fear of being stranded with a dead battery meant that some staff were initially nervous about switching to EVs. However, Robert says the “ease with which people were able to adapt helped to calm fears,” and staff quickly found the quietness, reliability, and ease of recharging to be a big positive.
“Our first driver was amazed at how easy it was to drive and surprised to find it lacked nothing in performance. With careful management, range does not have to be a problem.”
The Trust have demonstrated that investment in EVs is great for the environment and operating costs. They have since purchased two more electric cars: a Mitsubishi i-MiEV and another Hyundai Ioniq. The fleet is now 50% electric and the goal is to eventually have a fully electric fleet. Robert says “we cannot go on driving petrol and diesel powered vehicles – the sooner we all change, the better.”
Scope of the project
|Category||Item||Cost per unit||Quantity||Total|
|Vehicles||Nissan Leaf (2011)||$10,000||1||$10,000|
|Nissan Leaf (2013)||$18,000||1||$18,000|
|Hyundai Ioniq (2018)||$50,000||1||$50,000|
|Nissan e-NV200 van (2015)||$21,000||3||$63,000|
|Rear seat installation for e-NV200||$5,000||2||$10,000|
|Charging Infrastructure||Halo Wallbox Charger||$1,250||2||$2,500|
The Trust’s co-funded EV project kicked off in January 2018. The first of the vehicles were delivered in March, with the on-site chargers installed in April. By the end of July 2018, the entire fleet was on the road.
To find out which vehicles and chargers would best suit their needs, Robert spoke to Genuine Vehicle Imports (GVI) and Blue Cars Auckland, who he says “know what they are doing.” Blue Cars also supplied and installed charging infrastructure and GVI fitted out the vans out with extra seats.
Lessons for others
The Trust faced a limited choice and availability of electric vehicles at the time, which had to be factored into the timeline for the project. Robert also found that he had to do his research and “shop around” to find knowledgeable vehicle suppliers in the market, which took some time to do.
- Find a knowledgeable supplier. Some up-front analysis by a knowledgeable supplier can match the right vehicle to your needs and potentially help you save on both vehicle purchase costs and charging equipment.
- Check the EV battery’s state of health before you buy. Newer does not always mean better – one of the Trust’s Leafs is older than some of the others, but its battery is in far better condition.
- Know where your local public chargers are. If you aren’t installing charging infrastructure at your site, local charger locations may affect how you operate – factor this into your plan. Tip: using free chargers can significantly reduce running costs for your business.
- Consider charging your vehicles at home too. Robert says the EVs can be adequately charged overnight at staff homes, which has been a simple and cheap way to charge.