Ten questions with Graham Cree, BMW Corporate Sales Manager Government & Rental

GN: Why should government fleet operators be considering EVs and what should they be looking for during procurement?

Graham Cree

In a rapidly changing world with shifting requirements and greater consciousness about environmental protection, it is about reducing carbon emissions and meeting any current and future fleet emissions targets and sustainability policies. Putting EVs at the top of consideration for introduction to fleets now also provides the catalyst for effective preparation of EV charging infrastructure requirements. As with any vehicle, suitability at all levels for the intended applications is paramount and should not be overridden by choice of an unsuitable EV. It is important to look closely at vehicle lifecycles (does the model have long life or is it shortly to be superseded?), the impact on residual values, transparency of manufacturer support and the willingness of that manufacturer to work with you on any mutual challenges. If there is not a suitable vehicle now, ask when or even if one can be specifically made available for your needs. BMW Group Australia in the past six months has launched three all-new fully electric vehicles with another model, the flagship i7, to be launched later this year.

Graham Cree: How are the needs of government changing in relation to their fleets?

An increasing awareness of environmental protection combined with a focus on emissions targets and policies that include EV fleet usage. This leads to requirement of governments to consider the ‘fuelling’ (charging infrastructure) topic that was not a necessary focus with conventionally-powered vehicles. Consideration then naturally extends to vehicle on-board charging capabilities and battery range potential.

Do government fleet managers have the knowledge required to make the right decisions? How well equipped are they to navigate this quickly evolving landscape?

Adaptability has been key, and this also relies on manufacturers being able to provide the right detail in a collaborative manner. Manufacturer stakeholders must be subject matter experts to equip government fleet managers with the knowledge and information they require. The BMW Group takes an active role in providing education and experiences – including drive days and programs – that can help inform stakeholders of new technology and its practical applications. Explaining how our product can be especially useful in individual situations with specific requirements is a priority for us.

What sorts of solutions is BMW offering?

The BMW Group offers a range of fully electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that are suitable for a broad range of government fleet uses, with many new EV models to become available in the short to medium term. When the BMW i7 arrives this year, we will offer 11 electrified models across both the BMW and MINI product ranges, which is among the most of any manufacturer represented in Australia. BMW Group products lead the way not just in technology and capability but also in the crucial area of sustainability across the entire vehicle value chain. Government fleet managers are also supported by stakeholder subject matter experts.

Which of BMW’s EV models are best suited for government fleets and why?

Any of our four fully electric models would suit depending on the specific needs of the government department. This may range from a requirement for rear passenger space (e.g. official cars) or performance and range (emergency response vehicles). Our products across both the BMW and MINI line-ups suit a wide variety of applications.

What is the plan for the next ten years in terms of developing your EV portfolio?

By the end of 2025, BMW Group aims to deliver around two million fully electric vehicles to customers worldwide, with deliveries of BMW Group’s fully electric vehicles expected to grow by an average of more than 50 per cent annually by 2035. One of our prominent goals in the next two years is to have 25 electrified models in the product range (by the end of next year), with 12 of these models to be fully electric. Also in 2023, we will have at least one fully-electric model on the roads in about 90 percent of the company’s current market segments. Over the next decade or so, the BMW Group plans to release a total of about 10 million fully-electric vehicles onto the roads. MINI will be the first BMW Group brand to go exclusively fully electric by 2030.

Cost has always been an issue for EVs. Are they becoming more affordable?

Yes, especially as the technology evolves. Additionally, BMW Australia includes a five-year complimentary membership to the expanding Chargefox network with all new fully electric BMW models. This provides free and unlimited use of fast and Ultra-Rapid (DC, 50kW+) charge public charging stations to assist ongoing running costs. Various funding and financing options can also close the gap to conventionally-powered equivalents on a total cost of ownership basis.

Where does Australia stand in relation to the rest of the world in terms of EV uptake by government?

At this point, the uptake is minimal and for the same reason that private use of EVs in Australia are behind that of Europe in particular. We are not yet seeing considerable purchasing incentives like those in place in other parts of the world that have played a key role in increasing uptake. However, there has been significant developments in the past 12 months in a regulatory sense with state governments offering rebates and simultaneously committing to building charging infrastructure. There is a long way to go, but there are strong signs.

With World Environment Day taking place in June, what’s the message for fleet operators?

Explore all available EV options, including those that may not previously have come into consideration due to brand perception or upfront (rather than total cost of ownership) pricing. Consider the sustainability claims and credentials of shortlisted manufacturers throughout their supply and value chains and ask for details. Most importantly, take advantage of the knowledge of your manufacturer stakeholder and request any information that can assist with the fleet journey ahead. The BMW Group is proud to offer a comprehensive array of services, including the product range and expertise, supported by a very strong commitment to sustainability throughout the entire value chain.

Finally, a look into the crystal ball. What do you think the government fleet of the future will look like?

Depending on the development of infrastructure, fleets could be exclusively EV or as close as they can be with the exception of any specialist applications (specific areas of law enforcement for example) where fully electric vehicles may need further advances for application suitability.

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