Coca-Cola moves forward and embraces EVs
The car fleet at Coca-Cola European Partners may still be dominated by diesel-powered vehicles but the company is preparing for large-scale electrification, says Senior Manager Fleet Europe Marc Devos.
Things have changed since Marc Devos first joined the company, 22 years ago. Back then, the leasing budget was virtually the only criterion employees needed to take into consideration. Today, much more thought goes into ensuring the right people drive cars with the right powertrains, in accordance with what is practical, what is possible in each market in terms of legislation and taxation, and what is affordable.
This is Forward
CCEP’s new fleet strategy isn’t an isolated fleet-only programme. In 2017, Coca-Cola launched This is Forward, an ambitious sustainability action plan with the objective to cut overall emissions by 50% by 2025. Vehicles are only one area in which Coca-Cola wants to achieve this ambitious goal. “We drew up a new vehicle strategy and we’re hoping to get the green light in the next few months,” said Mr Devos. From 2019 onwards, that should lead to the introduction of greener vehicles.
Mr Devos believes the future will be fully electric. Nevertheless, the vehicles needed to make that possible aren’t there yet. “Hybrids and plug-in hybrids are only a stopgap,” said Mr Devos. “We’re moving towards full EVs eventually.”
“When using plug-in hybrids, it is essential you make sure they are being used correctly,” said Mr Devos. “We accept them when drivers cover a maximum of 25,000km each year, when the driver owns their home and when they have the possibility to have a charging station installed at home. Also, the commute to the office needs to be within the vehicle’s full electric range.”
These strict criteria were put in place to ensure drivers of plug-in hybrid cars are really using the full potential their car offers.
“There can be many issues when rolling out plug-in hybrids or EVs,” said Mr Devos. “In cities, people often do not have the possibility to install their own charging station and public infrastructure is often lacking. In the country, older houses may have electricity grids that cannot cope with charging stations and upgrades may be prohibitively expensive.” Because of these restraints, ordering EVs or PHEVs is done on a case-by-case basis.
Having charging stations at people’s homes is one thing, they also need to be able to recharge their vehicles at the office. At this moment, the head office in Brussels has 23 on-site charging stations, a number which is likely to go up in the future. Other Coca-Cola sites also have charging stations to provide optimum connectivity between all sites.
Befitting a leading EV adoption country, Norway is also a pioneer country for Coca-Cola. Last year, they delivered 100 Opel Amperas for their sales reps in Norway. In a second pilot, a series of Hyundai Konas were delivered for 10 sales reps and team leaders in Belgium. “In the first quarter of 2019, we want to launch a third pilot in a number of large cities in France, offering Hyundai Konas, Nissan Leafs or the electric VW Golf, said Mr Devos.” These pilot programmes will enable the company to learn valuable lessons for a more widespread roll-out of full-electric vehicles.
“We’re also looking for driver feedback. Do these vehicles meet their drivers’ expectations?” said Mr Devos.
An obstacle that’s holding back large scale EV adoption at this time is the limited number of models being offered. “There aren’t that many models on the market yet, and those that are, are often not readily available. The Opel Amperas in Norway, for instance, were ordered in June 2017 and only delivered in August 2018.”
Many new EVs have been announced for 2019 but availability remains uncertain at this time. “The big breakthrough will probably be next year,” concluded Mr Devos.
“For the first time, ranges are getting where we need them to be,” said Mr Devos. “When you’ve got a 400km range, you’ve got a real alternative to conventional powertrains.”
|Coca-Cola European Partners|
Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) in Belgium is part of the world’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler, operating 3 production sites and 5 distribution centres. The head office is located in Brussels. In 2018, CCEP employed 2,100 people in Belgium across the 7 locations.
Marc Devos, Senior Manager Fleet Europe, manages the fleet for the Benelux countries, France, the UK, Norway and Sweden, accounting for 4,200 vehicles consisting of benefit cars and job cars.
Image: Coca-Cola European Partners Head Office in Brussels, Belgium