This month we put the spotlight on long-standing members Zilch (formerly Yoogo Share) in our ‘Meet the Fleet’ section. We spoke with their Founder and General Manager, Kirsten Corson, in a bit more detail about the key learnings from their all-electric car-sharing business, as well as what exciting things are around the corner for Zilch…

Why electric and why now?

Because our business originally was a fleet leasing and vehicle management business, we could see the challenges of adopting electric vehicles due to the higher capital costs and charging infrastructure. And we could also see how poorly vehicles are utilised – which is less than 5% of the time. So, we thought if we could deliver a shared service with pure electric vehicles, it would give any business or the general public the ability to go green without the hassle, and make EVs available to everyone.

Who is your customer and what are they saying about the low emissions experience?

We have both business customers and private users. Our business customers enjoy Zilch because it’s a really easy way to have electric vehicles in their fleet. Christchurch City Council would be our classic business customer – they sold five of their electric vehicles and 50 of their petrol vehicles and instead, they now have over a thousand bookings a month with us.

We put a hundred EVs on the road in 2018 when we started, and from then until now we’ve saved over 300 tons of carbon in Christchurch alone – and Christchurch City Council has played a huge part in contributing to that.

How and why did you choose the vehicles in your fleet?

In 2018 we started with the Hyundai Ioniq and the BMW i3 – both of those cars had just been launched and they complemented each other with a 200-kilometre range. Since then, we’ve introduced the Hyundai Kona – it’s got a 450-kilometre range and that’s a real game changer. It’s obviously more expensive, but from a customer experience point of view, it means that range anxiety is an issue of the past.

What approach did you take to accommodate the charging infrastructure at your sites?

When we launched in 2018 we installed a hundred chargers across in eight different hubs. We learnt A LOT!

With our new Exclusive Car Sharing model, we support a business to choose the best chargers in the right locations and in the right quantities. We help businesses to optimise both the EV’s and charging infrastructure. Most businesses looking to adopt EV’s focus on the cars where charging is such an important component.

What does the future of electric look like for Zilch?

In the last six months we have developed a new product which we call Exclusive Car Sharing, here we review a company’s current fleet, assess both cost and carbon then present a plan to rationalise the fleet, install charging infrastructure use our car sharing software to optimise the EV fleet. This allows us to expand to any area of New Zealand. 

We are very excited about our partnership with Genesis Energy which delivers a Home Charging package which complements our work charging infrastructure.

For once it makes it economical to adopt EV’s into your fleet.

What are the key lessons you’ve learned from your electrification journey?

It’s a huge change management process. We certainly saw that with the Christchurch City Council – with several hundred staff that were used to driving the same vehicle for years. Training them to drive a car that was completely technology-focused, no keys, app or online bookings, swipe card, or cell phone access to open the car. Having the support mechanisms in place to really hold their hands and make them feel comfortable, and make it a positive experience.

It was the process of shifting people from traditional ownership to mobility as a service, understanding the change management processes required. That was a key learning for us.

What tips do you have for those thinking of starting the transition to EVs?

Talk to Zilch! Don’t get fixated about the vehicle, look at the charging infrastructure that’s required. Typically, when a business goes to make changes with their fleet, they get fixated with “which car are we going to have?” But actually, your biggest decision is around charging infrastructure. Where is the charging infrastructure going to go? What charging infrastructure are you going to install? Is it going to be fit for purpose for what the car’s going to be used for? Home charging?

It’s going to be really exciting to see what happens with charging infrastructure. We’ll look back in ten years’ time at what we’re using now and say; “Oh my goodness, that was like Alexander Bell’s telephone.” 

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