The smart evolution of vehicle expense management.
We caught up with Bridget Molan from CardLink to find out about the evolution of fuel and vehicle expense management ‒ from the time before Eftpos was mainstream to the very recent launch of CardSmart +Electric and its companion fob.
Tell us about CardLink
“Since 1984 when payment processes were manual, and before Eftpos was mainstream, CardLink has created clever solutions like the CardSmart fuel card to simplify and enhance the payment experience for both merchants and consumers, saving time and money!
“Today, CardLink services over 50,000 fuel cards throughout the country, allowing businesses to streamline their fuel and vehicle expense management.
“We’ve forged strong long-standing relationships with suppliers and, as a result, we have a really fantastic partner network across the country. CardSmart is the only fuel card accepted at over 90% of fuel stations and at over 6,000 non-fuel merchants. Drivers are able to get WOFs, tyres, parts, servicing, maintenance, safety checks and more.
“CardSmart is so customisable businesses have the ability to control what purchases employees can make and how much they can spend.
“Now we’re aiming to do that for EVs as well!”
Why have you launched CardSmart +Electric, what is special about it?
“Last year, a CardLink survey revealed 42% of customers either had, or were thinking of adding, EVs to their fleets. With EVs becoming a growing part of many fleets, it made sense to combine our CardSmart offering with electric vehicle charging capability.
“CardSmart +Electric is New Zealand’s first multi-brand fleet card covering both traditional fuel and EVs. The card and its companion fob are embedded with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology that allows drivers to tap on and off to start and stop charging sessions.
“We have customers ranging from small to medium-sized businesses through to some large national organisations, that have a mixture of EV and ICE vehicles in their fleets. CardSmart +Electric allows them to pay for everything vehicle related on one card, and keep track of it all in a single record, on one invoice.
“Now customers are able to get the same level of reporting for their ICE vehicles as for their EVs. They’re easily able to do cost comparisons between the cost of running an EV versus the cost to run their ICEV.
“From a driver perspective, employees are used to having a fuel card, so when they move into an EV CardSmart +Electric it brings familiarity to the process, it’s one less thing that’s changing for them.
“It’s a smart solution for businesses that are transitioning to lower carbon fleets. Our vision is for all businesses to have streamlined access to all charge points and the tools to help make the shift to EVs seamless.”
How big is CardSmart +Electric’s partner network?
“CardSmartCard Smart +Electric holders have access to the entire CardLink supplier network of over 6,000 merchants, 90% of fuel stations, as well as two charging networks: Chargenet and Open Loop. Because holders can access both charging providers they can access more than 360 EV charge points, offering nationwide coverage and a growing number of super-fast chargers.
“We know that the convenience of a single card that is accepted at all networks will give everybody a better range. It’s exactly what we’ve done with the fuel networks, we don’t see why we shouldn’t be able to do it with the EV networks as well and that will be absolutely unique to CardLink and Aotearoa New Zealand ‒watch this space!”
What advice do you have for businesses thinking about electrifying their fleets?
“Buying an EV is really just the start, you need to think and plan for how you’re going to manage your EVs on an ongoing basis, and how you can do that in a really simple and easy way, without overcomplicating it.”
“One of the things organisations can find really challenging is managing employees charging at home.
“For example, if a business allows home charging, it needs to consider the cost of installing a charger in an employee’s home and what will happen if the employee sells their home or leaves the business. Therefore, a simple solution when starting out might be to veto home charging and, instead, enable employees to charge on the road using fast chargers, or using a charger at the depot. While businesses may pay more for using on road chargers, overall it could be a better solution as it simplifies business administration, eliminating reimbursement, policy and insurance issues.”
How is CardLink helping Aotearoa New Zealand to meet its climate targets?
“…businesses and fleets have a major role to play in terms of decarbonisation. We know the transport emissions are massive in this country, as a percentage, and fleets are a big part of that ‒one organisation has the ability to make far more of an impact than each of us do individually.
“Our products are making it easier for businesses to see the savings and create business cases to move forward with their EV fleet adoption plans.
“Over the last eight years we’ve also helped businesses offset their emissions from vehicles that can’t transition to EV (yet) through native tree planting with our flexible opt-in programme ecoDRIVE. We’re looking forward to some exciting new developments in the ecoDRIVE programme and the decarbonisation space next year.”
How has the e-mobility industry evolved since CardLink began?
“Cardlink started before the e-mobility industry even existed. We’ve seen advances in the actual technologies and in the availability of vehicles on the market. E-mobility is now an accepted and mainstream technology and it isn’t just cars. The other really interesting development is the range of services that have popped up to support e-mobility in different ways. There are service providers that are making niches out of providing information and helping guide customers through their mobility journeys, and there’s a lot of collaboration happening across the ecosystem, which is just really neat!”
Do you have any exciting company developments coming up that you could tell us a bit about?
“We will keep expanding our charging network, and we’re looking at new developments in the at home or office charging space as well as an app to help customers find chargers and EV maintenance facilities. We want to make sure businesses have all the tools they need to support a super easy and convenient EV journey.”
How can businesses apply for CardSmart +Electric?
“We are also on the lookout for more partnerships, so if you are a CPO or EV Service provider and would like to have a chat with us, email Bridget Molan@fleetcor.com”