Features
17 Nov 22

How major businesses are moving to smart mobility

Businesses determined to reduce their carbon footprints need to view mobility solutions as additions rather than alternatives to company cars, according to industry experts.

Mobility decision makers from multi-national companies, such as EY, G4S and Ecolab, alongside major industry suppliers, told delegates at the Smart Mobility Institute in Dublin, how offering attractive solutions, in terms of both price and convenience, was the most effective way to change employee behaviours.

Against the background of COP27 and the environmental emergency, the case for reducing car use and cutting CO2 emissions is compelling; not simply driving fewer miles, but reducing the number of cars on the road by shifting to shared transport. Covid-19 lockdowns accelerated this trend, alerting company car drivers to the tax burden parked on their driveway while they worked from home, but persuading them to shift to cleaner, greener transport remains a complicated challenge.

Marc Wittenberg, Global Procurement Center of Excellence Leader Automotive Mobility, EY (pictured above), said: “We focus on sustainable, flexible solutions as well as the user experience. If the experience is not good, the solution is not going to work.”

EY is committed to a 35% reduction in its CO2 emissions by 2025, compared to 2019.

“We give our people the freedom and flexibility to contribute to our targets,” added Wittenberg, saying that achieving buy-in from staff depends on three key criteria.

Firstly, the solutions offered have to be truly sustainable; secondly, the company’s intention has to be authentic (this has to be an environmentally, not cost driven process); and, thirdly, it requires incentives to prompt the shift to mobility solutions.

“People can still travel how they used to travel, if they want,” he said. “But by providing alternatives we are facilitating stakeholders to achieve their goals.”

Ecolab - mobility for all staff

The good news is that mobility solutions can be inclusive of all staff, and not just company car drivers, as initiatives at Ecolab have demonstrated.

The water treatment and hygiene company has extended its corporate car rental rates to all staff, so employees can choose not to own a car and simply hire one at preferential prices when they need it.

Guillaume Pin, Europe Procurement Manager, Fleet and Travel, Ecolab, said: “We have also introduced a bike leasing programme, targeted at our factory operatives, with preferential rates and payments deducted straight from their salaries.”

The goal is to offer a staff benefit and encourage green commuting by bike or e-bike, rather than car.

EU emissions targets

How employees commute to work will become important to all larger businesses (with more than 250 employees or revenues over €40 million), when carbon reporting requirements expand to include Scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Businesses are already obliged to report their Scope 1 emissions, from their own operations, including fleet, and the Scope 2 emissions from the energy they use. Scope 3, while not yet compulsory to report, includes the GHG emissions generated by commuting.

Capital markets and investors will only invest in companies whose CO2 emissions are on a trajectory to meet EU targets, said Kristof Hecht, senior executive manager, global innovations and solutions, Sixt. The EU has set a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, with an important stepping stone of reducing CO2 emissions by 55% (compared to 1990) by 2030.

To help corporate customers achieve these goals, mobility suppliers will have to work together to persuade Governments to create an environment that encourages drivers out of private cars and supports cleaner, greener travel, according to Brendan Grieve, chair of Mobility Partnership Ireland (MPI) and managing director of Enterprise Rent-a-Car Ireland (pictured above).

The MPI brings together bus, car share, car rental, scooter and bike share operators into a single organisation to lobby the Irish Government for policy changes to support shared transport and to raise the profile of mobility services.

“One mode of transport cannot solve every need for private and business users, but the Government needs to hear a united voice and a consistent message from our sector,” said Grieve.

By bringing together companies that would typically be competitors, MPI has gained the ear of the Irish Government and is now pushing hard for a VAT reduction for travel on shared transport to 13.5% from the national rate of 23%.

United approach

The Urban Mobility Partnership in the UK performs a similar role, and Fleet Europe has learned that plans are afoot to create a Mobility Partnership Europe to speak with one voice across the EU.

Niall Carson, General Manager of FREE NOW Ireland, said a united approach was vital, because suppliers have to work together.

“We need to be working with mobility companies, like scooter and bike share, to support them,” he said. “There will never be just one player in the market; we’re building an eco-system where no one company has complete ownership of everything. It’s about building an eco-system that allows for collaboration – open APIs, for example, are very important.”

Urgent action

Businesses, however, cannot wait for suppliers to coordinate their efforts; decarbonising travel needs to start today, said Joshua Formis, International Sales Director, Fleet Logistics.

“2023 to 2025 are the three key years, and if you do not get them right, you will not achieve your 2030 targets,” he said.

Summing up the Smart Mobility Institute conference, Saskia Harreman, Corporate Mobility Expert, said the discussions had highlighted how: “Changing from fleet to alternative mobility is not about taking away cars, but about adding extra mobility offerings, increasing flexibility and increasing the focus on sustainability.”

It is also becoming obvious, she added: “That mobility is an all-inclusive approach not just for those entitled to a company car, but for all employees.”

Authored by: Jonathan Manning