140km range proves perfect for inner-city field work

Making the first step to switch from a petrol fleet to an electric fleet for field operations has not only reduced WELLS Instrument & Electrical Services’ carbon footprint – fuel costs have dramatically reduced too. The project received co-funding from the Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund. 

About the journey 

WELLS Instrument & Electrical Services provide a range of metering, electrical field, and technical services across New Zealand using a fleet of 500 petrol and diesel-fuelled vehicles.

WELLS are conscious of their carbon footprint and felt that introducing a carbon neutral fleet of electric vehicles (EVs) for field work would be a great way for them to reduce their emissions and running costs. What’s more, the company’s first successful electric fleet would give them the confidence to roll out EVs across the wider fleet and showcase the suitability of EVs to other businesses too.

Eight used Nissan Leafs were purchased for WELLS’ field operatives to use across the Auckland region. The 24kW battery’s 140km range was a great option for their inner-city rounds, which are usually under 120km, and opting for used EVs helped keep purchase costs down.

WELLS installed two 7kWh chargers at each of their offices in Penrose and Albany so the Leafs could be charged between jobs if required. Chargers were also installed at some of the drivers’ homes to give staff the option of overnight charging.

Before any of the chargers were installed, WELLS made sure they investigated whether any permissions were required to do so and had thorough site electrical assessments performed to identify any supply issues or modifications that might be needed. This meant they could feel confident that their charging set-ups were safe and helped avoid any unexpected electrical upgrade costs and delays later down the track.

WELLS had to re-think the way they do things and look at how a few small changes could make EVs work for them. Some simple adjustments to their field service delivery means they are able to accommodate public charging top-ups and home charging solutions.

Because WELLS want to promote the growth of electric vehicles on New Zealand’s roads, they also made their office chargers available for public use. This is great for other businesses and members of the public with EVs since these areas did not previously have public charging infrastructure.

Results

The range of the EVs has been “more than sufficient” for WELLS’ inner city rounds, says Senior Business Development Manager, Mohsin Siddiqui.

Charging the EVs is working out well, with chargers at the office, at home and in public locations providing plenty of options for the team. “Feedback from staff has been good, they like driving the EVs and the fact that they are friendly for the environment.”

Not only have carbon emissions been slashed, but switching to EVs has dramatically cut fuel costs. Over five months with the same drivers and driving patterns, WELLS spent just $1500 on electricity to charge the EVs compared to the $9000 they would normally spend on 5,285L of petrol.

Mohsin says that the electric fleet has “proven that EVs are cost effective.” In fact, WELLS have already purchased more electric vehicles and would like to look at doing this across the rest of their 500 strong vehicle fleet. The team also learnt lot about EVs, which inspired plans for WELLS to provide an EV charger installation and upgrade service that is now up and running.

Scope of the project

Cost breakdown

Category Item Cost per unit Quantity Total
Vehicles Used Nissan Leaf (24kWh) $14,625 8 $117,000
  Signwriting $375 8 $3,000
        $120,000
Charging Infrastructure Delta AC Mini Plus (7kWh) charger $2,250 4 $9,000
  Site assessments $500 2 $1,000
  Installation $2,500 4 $10,000
  Charge Point solution platform $2,500 4 $10,000
        $30,000
Other Costs Project management $10,000   $10,000
        $10,000
Grand Total      

$160,000

EECA Co-funding      

$80,000

Time frame

WELLS’ electric fleet project kicked off in early February 2019. Charging stations were installed in April and all eight of the Leafs were delivered by the end of May 2019.

Suppliers

The Nissan Leafs were supplied by Oti Auto Limited and Q Motors and the chargers were sourced from E-merge Data Solutions.

Advice

  • Project planning is essential. Many different parties may be involved in setting up an EV fleet so it is important to plan ahead and align your delivery requirements and dates.
  • Use software to track your vehicle movements on the job. This will help you understand which vehicles in your fleet could be replaced by EVs – not all jobs or vehicles will be suitable.
  • Get advice about charger installation from qualified electricians. Getting it wrong can mean expensive, unexpected costs later on for transformer or power board upgrades. For example, a 50kWh charger could be up to 80Amps so your transformer might need to be upgraded which can cost up to $45,000. A site assessment and professional advice will help you avoid any surprises down the track.
  • A one-stop-shop supplier can manage the whole project from estimates to civil works. This can help avoid unexpected blow-outs and ensure timelines are met.
  • Track fuel use over a comparable period. This will help you understand the results of the project and the savings that have been made.

Who else could do this?

  • Small and medium enterprises
  • Community groups, non-profit organisations, and Iwi
  • City Councils
  • Tourism businesses
  • Retirement villages
  • Client service organisations (sales, technical support staff)

Low emission vehicles contestable Fund

Electric vehicles for businesses