As we are convinced it is necessary to protect the environment where we operate, we have made a commitment to reduce our carbon footprint. An analysis has shown that one of our major current sources of emissions is our fleet, which includes five hundred cars with combustion engine.
Last year, we launched a locally unique initiative focused on gradual exchange of most of our fleet vehicles for electric cars within five years. In the next two years, our fleet will save up to 740 tonnes of CO2e. We have ordered 150 electric models of Volkswagen e-Golf, that are delivered with respect to manufacturer’s production capacities. Last year, first 12 vehicles were introduced to our fleet, serving mostly as pool cars for business trips around Prague and nearby places.
Our experiences with project implementation have brought some interesting findings.
First, building a company fleet of electric vehicles requires strong employee buy-in. Therefore, we pay equal attention to both internal communication and to various technical and technological aspects. Through specialized newsletters, digital signages, intranet messages and workshops, we continuously explain to our colleagues the importance of reducing carbon footprint as our main motivation for switching to electric cars, as well as their features and benefits. We actively offer our employees to borrow a company electric car, try it and share their experience with us. This community of “early adopters” across various roles and teams then gives rise to ambassadors, who, thanks to their positive practical experience, help further engage and educate others. In addition, we have reserved the best parking spaces for electric vehicles at our Prague head office, prepared a tailor-made user manual and registered the cars into traffic system of Prague Magistrate to grant them unrestricted parking in blue zones across all city districts.
Second, regular electric car with real range of about 200 km per one charging is an ideal zero-emissions vehicle for frequent drives around the city or its proximity. However, existing infrastructure for speed charging (up to 80% of battery’s capacity within 20 minutes) or standard charging (to full capacity within about six hours) is very weak outside Prague. Fortunately, the number of charging stations is growing quickly assisted by subsidy programs by the European Commission and other organizations. Municipalities and energetic companies are very active in building new infrastructure as well. Even we are considering building public charging stations in cooperation with our partners around more than two hundred of our branches.
Third, based on our own practical experience we can see further opportunities for supporting the development of zero-emissions mobility in the Czech Republic. In our view, the biggest potential lies within organizations operating large company fleets and their employees. With respect to motivating organizations, we believe the crucial point is intensive expansion of charging stations, standardization of systems for smart re-charging in buildings where large amounts of electric cars are parked, such as office buildings or shopping malls, and centralization of the registration process for electric vehicles into a single system of discounted parking across different cities. As for the employees, it should be considered whether a change in legislation might provide them with certain benefits compared to the current situation, when their salary tax base is increased by 1 per cent if they use their company car for private purposes, whereas an electric car costs about twice as much as the same model with combustion engine.
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