There is nothing better than a virtual stage with thousands of participants to demystify electric mobility and to present the world with the solutions of the start-up Flow, in which Galp has a majority interest, and whose mission consists of the management of mobility solutions, the monitoring of vehicle fleets and carsharing services.
As far as Jane Hoffer, an American and the head of Flow since early 2020, is concerned, certain issues still act as barriers to switching to electric modes of mobility, but which, in reality, are nothing more than myths. On the one hand, the price of electric vehicles, which, despite being higher, actually allows for gains in fuel and maintenance costs. The return on investment, she says, “is relatively quick due to this type of savings”. Another myth involves the issue of a short battery life, which can be a problem in a corporate fleet. The CEO replies: “many fleets don´t clock up enough miles to warrant excluding the use of electric vehicles”. In her opinion, it´s a matter of calculating distances and ascertaining whether or not this strategy is realistic.
The shortage of charging points is another factor that acts as a barrier. Jane Hoffer recalls that Galp already has around 800 charging points located across the country, but adds that companies can install their own charging stations, either on their premises or at the homes of employees with a company car. “The costs inherent to this option are very affordable and are worth it”, she reinforces.
Finally, the myth of a loss of privacy through the use of data. “The data used in fleet management pertains to the vehicle and not the user, so this issue is inexistent”, explains the CEO. The data available on the Flow platform consists solely of patterns and inefficiencies to enable improvements to be implemented in real time. Jane Hoffer also mentions the growing importance of data that, according to the consultancy firm IDC, doubles each year. “This is an essential source for making good decisions”.
OPPORTUNITY FOR CHANGE
The interest and concern of companies and citizens with regard to electric mobility has been growing in recent years. The pandemic has resulted in issues related to sustainability gaining even more weight and, as such, Jane Hoffer believes that “the post-Covid period will be an opportunity to evaluate changes, in particular at companies”. The increase in distance working means many people no longer have to travel to their workplace on a daily basis, and are now considering mobility options other than their own transport. However, she warns, “both governments and companies will play a major role in sustainable mobility”. The former to promote and regulate this new market, and the latter to change behaviour and ensure costs are reduced, while maintaining good environmental sustainability practices.
Members of the younger generations, who are just beginning to enter the job market, have a greater appetite and curiosity in relation to alternative solutions, which guarantees greater potential for companies like Flow. “Transformation is a journey that needs to be planned and taken step by step”, believes Jane Hoffer. Right now, the start-up is focused on car and motorcycle fleets, but its business may expand to other types of fleets such as trucks and trains.
START-UP ACCELERATOR BGI AND EIT DIGITAL ACKNOWLEDGE FLOW
Flow recently won the award for the best Portuguese start-up in the 'CleanTech and Industry 4.0' category for its Sustainable Mobility Management (SMM) solution, which plans, manages and maximises the entire transport ecosystem within an organisation - from determining the best approach for the electrification of a fleet, the management of a multi-modal series of traditional, hybrid and electric vehicles, to optimising all aspects of energy management in electric vehicle charging infrastructure.