What does Smartrak do?
We provide fleet and mobility management software. Our products are used within government, healthcare, emergency services, utilities and many other industries across New Zealand, Australia and North America. Our focus is on enhancing the productivity, safety, operational flexibility and workload management of our customers, with platforms that can be tailored to suit each customer’s needs.
In New Zealand, our clients include Meridian Energy, Department of Conservation, IHC and Waikato Regional Council.
Smartrak’s focus is on the commercial adoption of electric vehicles, how does this differ from domestic users?
The differences we have identified are in the approach to evaluating EVs, rather than in the issues of using them. The challenges that come up in convincing domestic customers tend to resurface in commercial considerations too, with range anxiety and access to charging stations being consistent operational concerns. On the other-hand, Smartrak customers are generally more equipped to approach the EV opportunity by using actual measures rather than perceived issues to evaluate viability.
Our existing customers will already be using advanced telematics to gain exceptional clarity about vehicle use in their fleets, so the discussion around range and charging is fact-based, with actual journeys logged and measured. Using that knowledge, the EV/ICE comparison leaves very little to supposition.
One of our customers, Meridian Energy, is a case in point. Their Procurement & Property Manager, Nick Robilliard always insists: “The data has been the enabler.” Armed with this telematic information, Meridian has successfully transitioned 80% of the company’s passenger fleet to electric.
What is the process Smartrak goes through in evaluating the viability of EVs for commercial users?
It’s really a case of journey planning. With enough information you can identify the vast majority of use cases for a fleet’s vehicles. Once you overlay those journeys against available charging points, a base case for transitioning to EVs can be established. But that’s just the start. We are also measuring driving behaviour, so we can moderate instances of harsh driving and over-speeding, this brings down energy use, extending EV range, and makes for safer journeys.
Factoring EV charging breaks into journey planning and job scheduling can also be considered from an employee wellbeing aspect; enforcing a break from driving that’s probably warranted if a vehicle has been moving long enough to run low on charge.
Do you see any limits to the commercial use of EVs?
It would be fair to say that Smartrak is concentrating on the viability of EVs for white fleets: passenger and service vehicles in urban and surrounding areas. Although we are sure that battery technology will expand EV use into other arenas, with 4WD and ute capabilities – we do have customers who are already watching this space very closely.
Aside from economics, what else lies behind the commercial drive to adopt EVs?
Without doubt, public perception and the reality that more sustainable operations are in everyone’s interests are key factors. Returning to Meridian, they have said that being green is in their DNA – this isn’t a nice to have, it goes to the heart of their brand. The company’s transition to EVs is a highly visible part of that brand positioning, that’s also delivering verifiable and welcome reductions in carbon emissions.
These are results that many other organisations in NZ could emulate, and thanks to the early adopters that transition is going to be easier to achieve; the learnings are already there for them to draw on. That’s another aspect that quickly becomes apparent as we go on this journey with our customers; they’re very civic minded, and quite happy to share what they’ve learned to help other companies get on board.
Our customers also anticipate ongoing government legislation to mandate lower carbon emissions, so it makes sense to be ahead of the curve. And empowering forward-thinking organisations with the insights they need to take a leadership role in this process is what Smartrak can do to help. Obviously we see EVs playing an important role in making New Zealand’s a more sustainable economy, but that’s only one of the opportunities that technology is providing. Smartrak’s investments in the sharing economy, where vehicle fleets are shared between companies, and offering multiple journey choices, with options like e-scooters included in the mix will not only make businesses greener, they will provide platforms for transformational change.