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Thomson Rossi and SAPOL in the lead to realise corporate gains from electric vehicles

13 April, 2021

An eye on the future and passion for being at the forefront of sustainability is evident in leading Adelaide architectural firm and Carbon Neutral Adelaide founding partner, Thomson Rossi. Their considered 2010 office conversion of a 1950s sawtooth-roof warehouse on Carrington Street boasts a range green-features, including a 30kw solar system (supported by a City of Adelaide rebate), associated battery storage, low energy lighting and an automated system to control the internal environment; when the temperature reaches a set point, the airconditioning shuts down and the windows open to let in fresh air.

So when the time came for Thomson Rossi to replace their office share-car which ran on diesel, their attention turned naturally to electric vehicles.

“We looked at opportunities over a few years but we worried about the range,” said Thomson Rossi Director, Simon Thomson, referring to the distance an electric car can travel between charging. “We didn’t make the change until last year, when our solar installer mentioned the financial incentives available in the City of Adelaide. We’d previously identified we needed a range of at least 300 km and found a model that could give us that, giving us the confidence to switch.”

Thomson Rossi purchased a Hyundai Ioniq with a stated range of 311 kms*. They installed their own vehicle charger onsite, which was supported by a rebate through the City of Adelaide Sustainability Incentives Scheme.

The car is available to all staff through a booking system and the feedback from staff has been positive. The car is challenging perceptions that electric vehicles are great in theory but impractical in real life.

“It’s fun to drive, nippy and quick off the mark. It’s also convenient. We never have to go to a petrol station. We drive in, plug in and it’s ready to go the next day. We now have 6 or 7 staff members who are seriously considering an EV as their next car. It’s a talking point with clients too – we let them take it for a drive and ask what they think. We like to demonstrate the car as a fun way to introduce EVs to a wide range of people," he said.

When asked about barriers, Simon acknowledged even with their desire to keep driving their sustainability agenda forward, the price premium for electric vehicles required a shift. The incentive for charging infrastructure was appealing.

“What could have been a $35,000 investment becomes more like $50,000, so the rebate helped. Interestingly though, where we thought it would take 5 to 6 years for the car to pay for itself, it’s now looking more like 3 to 4. Coupled with the future expansion of the charging station network across South Australia and advent of two-way chargers (which allow the car to act be a back-up power source in the event of a blackout for properties on the grid) there are more reasons than ever to make the switch” said Simon.

“It’s fun to drive, nippy and quick off the mark. It’s also convenient.”

It’s a similar glowing report at SAPOL

There's also future-facing investment happening at SA Police, who recently leased 5 electric vehicles and installed 5 charging stations to create an electric vehicle hub at Police Headquarters.

The electric fleet comprises 2 Hyundai Konas and 3 Hyundai Ioniqs to support non-operational purposes including site visits, meetings and transport between Police Headquarters and other police facilities. The Kona has a range of 484 kms* and the Ioniqs have a range of 311 kms*.

SAPOL’s Director Business Service, Stephen Johinke said SAPOL and its Executive team have been, and continue to be, very supportive of environmentally conscious opportunities such as the use of electric vehicles and are excited about further opportunities as technologies continue to improve.

“Take up by SAPOL staff has been great, with the Konas and Ioniqs having been used for hundreds of trips since late December,” Stephen said. “There’s no sign of range anxiety or reports of people being stranded with a flat battery. Staff feedback has largely been about the excellent performance and endurance, and the ease of use of the vehicles.

“I have had staff indicate that the opportunity to use an electric vehicle has demonstrated that the technology can work in terms of a personal vehicle – it’s really exciting to see that implementing technology such as this can have an impact far beyond the workplace,” Stephen said.

Linda Temiguian, Personal Assistant to Assistant Commissioner Craig Patterson, COVID-19 Operations Command agrees.

“My introduction to electric vehicles has been very positive,” Linda said. “At first I wasn’t too sure if the engine had started because there is absolutely no engine sound at all. None on start up or during driving. Once you become accustomed to the ‘deafening silence’ the car is very easy and comfortable to drive. It is as equally powerful and responsive as a standard petrol vehicle. It is fabulous that SAPOL has these cars as a resource for members who require access to a fleet and the fact that they are a cleaner resource is a bonus for both the organisation and community as a whole.”

Each vehicle in the SAPOL EV Hub sports a unique colour, and drivers are encouraged to plug the vehicle in when they return to the EV hub to ensure they are always ready for use. Each vehicle carries a simple laminated set of instructions in the driver’s door pocket detailing features and instructions on how to get the best out of the vehicle.

“It’s really exciting to see that implementing technology such as this can have an impact far beyond the workplace”

Advice for businesses considering making the switch to electric vehicles

The final word goes to Simon, who when asked what he would say to other business owners who are considering switching to electric vehicles, said, “It’s a ‘no-brainer’.”

“If you’re buying a new vehicle, you should be considering an EV. It’s convenient, quiet, non-polluting and it stacks up from a financial point of view. Also, as the owner of a Porsche, I have to say I enjoy driving the Hyundai Ioniq just as much, almost more,” Simon laughs.

To learn about available rebates for businesses and households including how to claim, visit the Sustainability Incentives Scheme website. To learn more about becoming a Carbon Neutral Adelaide Partner or to view current partners, visit the Carbon Neutral Adelaide website.

*Note: Range listed for electric vehicle models in this article are taken from the Hyundai website at 18 March 2021.