Alphabet International: The first comprehensive e-mobility solution for company fleets

Urbanisation and environmental concerns are some of the factors shaping business mobility today. Ed Frederiks (left), CEO of leading business mobility provider Alphabet International, and head of the e-mobility fleet business project Carsten Kwirandt talk to FDE about the growing need for more efficient and sustainable solutions, such as e-mobility.

How do you see tomorrow's mobility evolving?
Ed Frederiks:
People want flexible, convenient mobility that gets them quickly to their destination. With increasing space restriction and traffic congestion, private car ownership is becoming less significant. We are seeing a growing trend for mixed-modal options, including bicycles, public transport and cars. Creative new mobility models, such as car-sharing, are also playing a bigger role. In general, people are looking for modern mobility solutions that are handy, cost-effective and resource-efficient. A growing environmental consciousness is also shaping mobility: it is driving a demand for alternative engine types such as hybrids or pure electric vehicles (EVs).

What potential does e-mobility offer the business world?
The integration of e-mobility into company fleets offers important benefits. With EVs as components of a company fleet, a mix of engine types is created, which makes the fleet more efficient and sustainable. Today's e-mobility is costeffective, convenient and ready to be implemented more extensively throughout the business world. In Germany and the Netherlands, we have just launched an advanced business e-mobility product for corporate fleets called AlphaElectric. It makes the integration of EVs into fleets easier than ever before.

Is now the right time for companies to adopt e-mobility - and, if so, why?
The time has never been better. E-mobility is steadily gaining momentum in the business world: companies want sustainable measures that will protect the environment and use resources efficiently. Being a sustainable company is important for a positive corporate image. The biggest obstacle to the uptake of EVs, up to now, has been uncertainty about limited range and less convenience. With new technology and investment, this barrier has been overcome. We have some of the first EV models on the market, such as the Nissan Leaf or the Opel Ampera. In autumn this year, one of the best EV models will be launched: the BMW i3. This is the first EV to be conceived and developed as a pure electric car right from the drawing board. Meanwhile, charging infrastructure continues to be developed extensively. The European Union is planning the installation of eight million charging stations throughout Europe by 2020, 10% of which will be public-access stations.

Could you describe Alphabet's specific approach in the area of e-mobility?
Carsten Kwirandt:
As Ed mentioned, we have just launched AlphaElectric, the first comprehensive e-mobility solution for company fleets. AlphaElectric is a holistic e-mobility approach. It leverages the CO2 emissions pertaining to a fleet and, in effect, reduces a company's total cost of mobility (TCM). AlphaElectric aims to lower a company's carbon footprint and fleet costs by integrating the right EVs and hybrids into existing fleets.

What makes AlphaElectric different from other e-mobility solutions on the market?
We wanted to make the integration of business e-mobility simple, for our customers and for drivers. When developing AlphaElectric, the convenience factor played as important a role as the other benefits of e-mobility.
CK: What we have created, therefore, is a complete e-mobility ecosystem that can be implemented in one integrated approach: fleet consulting including vehicle selection, charging solutions and additional mobility services.

What is the biggest benefit of AlphaElectric in your opinion?
Companies need to be convinced that e-mobility will not constrain them in any way. The biggest obstacle for customers has been range anxiety: how long is the car powered for? What happens if the battery runs out? Are there charging facilities nearby and how long will it take to charge? The biggest benefit of AlphaElectric is convenience: it puts infrastructure and services in place that ensure smooth, uninterrupted e-mobility. When a company implements AlphaElectric, they get the right cars for their needs, the relevant charging facilities and supplementary mobility services. They can incorporate a wide range of additional AlphaElectric options such as on-demand solutions with combustion engines for longer journeys, EV driver training and a smartphone app for the location of charging stations (currently available in Germany).

What sort of companies will benefit most from AlphaElectric?
That really depends on the company, its location and its specific needs. In urban areas where many companies are located and mostly short journeys are taken, EVs are an excellent, cost-efficient alternative to cars with combustion engines.
CK: I would add that companies whose business model demands regular short trips, such as service and delivery firms, would welcome the efficiency and convenience of AlphaElectric. In addition, any company with a car pool would benefit. In fact, I wouldn't limit the potential of business e-mobility.

Is the implementation of EVs into fleets much more expensive than that of petrol or diesel powered
If you compare the price of an EV with that of a car with a combustion engine, then the outlay for an EV is currently higher. However, if you take a company's TCM into consideration, you quickly see that overall, and depending on local tax regulations, an EV is not more expensive. In fact, e-mobility has a favourable effect on TCM.
CK: The idea behind AlphaElectric is that it allows companies to reduce fleet costs and their overall business mobility costs by using more efficient cars and, of course, by benefitting from tax incentives for low emissions.

What vehicles does AlphaElectric offer?
Alphabet offers all vehicle makes, so customers can choose models that best fit their specific needs. We have a portfolio of passenger and light commercial EVs from nearly all car manufacturers. AlphaElectric comes with the entire spectrum of plug-in vehicles and EVs with range extenders. Later this year, BMW will launch the BMW i3, a state-of the- art, battery-equipped premium EV with an optional range extender.

Where is AlphaElectric available?
AlphaElectric will be available in all European countries where Alphabet is represented. So far, we have launched AlphaElectric in Germany and the Netherlands, and we will roll it out in other major European markets throughout the year - the UK will be next.

What uptake level do you see for business e-mobility in five years' time?
I believe that AlphaElectric will prove to be a popular solution for urban business mobility over the coming years. Most city trips are short, so EVs are ideal. E-mobility will also play an important role in car-sharing; in particular, in corporate car-sharing models where cars can be used for personal as well as business trips. An increasing choice of EV models and the ever-expanding charging infrastructure will positively affect the uptake of business e-mobility.
EF: We will see the e-mobility growth curve continue to trend upwards in the coming years. It has advanced significantly in recent times due to technological advancements and investment, and is just realising its true potential. Now that greater e-mobility convenience is available, there will be no looking back. With AlphaElectric, we have introduced a product to the market that allows companies to enjoy all the benefits of e-mobility right now.

Ed Frederiks, CEO of Alphabet International.
Alphabet offers a range of passenger and light commercial vehicles from nearly all car manufacturers.