FEATURE: Five minutes with David Thackray, Sales and Marketing Director, Tevva

13 November 2019

British e-truck and EV technology pioneer Tevva has launched an innovative vehicle hire programme designed to help those fleets ready to take the next step towards electrification. Known as ELECTRIFY, the scheme will see Tevva deploy up to 50 12-tonne trucks across the UK and Europe over the next two years. Businesses would then be able to rent electric trucks for three to six months. This will give fleets all the real-world data they need to inform future purchases. TNB caught up with the company’s Sales and Marketing Director, David Thackray, to find out what the company hopes to achieve.

Tell us the background to ELECTRIFY. How did it come about?

We knew that as we progressed through 2019 into 2020, we were going to have a relatively mature technology platform but a challenge in terms of how quickly we could get scaled up.

We expect to produce in the order of 100-150 vehicles next year, but at least 1,000 in 2021 and double that in 2022 and double again in 2023.

But all that takes time – time to build capacity, time to recruit, time to enable your inbound supply chain etc.

So we knew there was going to be a time delay in terms of how long it would take to get to real scale and we wanted to be able to ensure that when that scale was ready to deploy, we had a customer base that was ready to order in quantity.

What are the other benefits to the programme?

Well, for our part it enables us to connect with a much larger volume of customers than we might otherwise do with the product and quantity that we have available.

At the same time though, it enables those customers to get a deeper understanding of what they can use, how they can use it, where they can use it and actually, what detailed specs they’re going to end up wanting when it comes to significant procurement.

What response have you had to ELECTRIFY?

Amazing! Even better than we could have hoped.

Of all the people I’ve spoken to, and I’m talking to fleet directors and logistics managers and so forth, the response has been 100% in favour.

We recognize that as the emergent technology, we need to demonstrate and prove in the real world how that technology can be practically applied in everyday operations and the response I get from the big fleets is that they’re red hot keen.

We initially looked to deploy between 8 and 10 vehicles in the UK but we’re now looking at what we can do to deploy at least 15 because we’re significantly oversubscribed.

By helping fleets get to grips with electrification, is there an extent to which you are doing your competitors’ jobs for them?

Effectively, Tevva is taking a lead, and I’m very comfortable with that.

I think realistically, we expect that by 2024 we’ll be producing about 6,000 vehicles a year and that’s quite a significant contribution, but if you consider that’s going to be at least Europe-wide, it represents only a small proportion of the total market and therefore I’m not concerned if we pave the way for others.

By the mid-2020s I expect the demand for electric HGVs will be significantly greater than the supply.

What do you see as the timeframe for wholesale electrification?

I personally believe that 2030 will quickly start to come into view as the date people talk about and if you’re looking at 2030, you’re looking at procurement of vehicles in 2023 that will be in service in 2030, and in actual fact you’ll be going to tender for those vehicles as early as 2022.

So, we are going to be into a tipping point some time very, very soon. And by way of evidence several cities in EU that we are talking to are targeting zero emission zones as early as 2025.

As soon as it’s clear that the product is there, I think the cities, regions and even the countries will deem that the time is right to legislate. They will take that view based on an understanding that it can be done now, and therefore they will press the button and say, ‘you need to get on with it and do it by this date’. Initiatives like ELECTRIFY can only facilitate and accelerate that process.

For all of the above reasons, I expect that companies involved in the manufacture of electric trucks and electric truck technologies will probably find that they are managing a waiting list rather than looking for a home for their production.

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