The Electrification of Mobility: Challenges and Opportunities for Travel and Transportation Operators


Electrification is not a new concept for the travel and transportation industry; railways have been electrifying infrastructures for decades, and urban transit companies have been operating light rail or commuter rail services for over a century.

Unfortunately, there is still a significant fleet of carbon-based locomotives and an entire fleet of trucks, buses, and utility vehicles utilizing carbon-based fuel and contributing to climate change across the globe. Meanwhile, in an adjacent industry, automotive manufacturers have almost unanimously promised to go electric in the coming years.

Where does that leave travel and transportation operators?

SAP recently hosted an industry forum about the electrification of mobility with leading mobility operators and industry value chain actors. Featured speakers included:

  • Bruno Flinois, chief executive Officer of Clem
  • Neele Marie Hinck, sales manager of EWE GO GMBH
  • Erwin Guizouarn, chief executive officer of Evolution Energy
  • Joerg Ferchow, chief solution expert at SAP
  • Ulrich Scholl, global vice president New Mobility of SAP

Based upon the virtual event, we have compiled key takeaways and experiences on the use of the end-to-end energy ecosystem, as well as how leading practitioners are using technology to achieve strategic goals in the journey to fleet electrification.

The Evolving Value Chain of the Energy Ecosystem

The way corporations and citizens perceive the energy ecosystem is changing. More than ever, corporations like SAP are aiming to achieve carbon-neutrality, with electrified mobility playing a strong role to support these efforts. Neele Marie Hinck shares that in partnership with EWE GO GMBH, SAP has built more than 500 charging stations in Germany to support its corporate fleet of hybrid or electric vehicles. This trend will only continue as other forward-thinking companies aspire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the journey to carbon neutrality.

Outside of SAP, Clem Founder and CEO Bruno Flinois provides a global perspective about the ambitions of local authorities and large cities to de-carbonize their fleets. Clem is responsible for developing clean mobility to support public transport, offering subscription services and consultation of electric car-sharing and smart charging practices. The company started in 2010 by supporting one city with three charging stations, up to its current 600 charging points and 400 electric vehicles in more than 200 cities.

During a live event poll, 50% of the respondents said their organizations are early adopters of e-mobility with a single-digit of e-fleets, while the remaining responders did not yet have any operationalized e-fleets.

Tremendous growth in e-mobility offerings and adoption from both the public and private sector over the last decade demonstrates a promising future for the environment and the travel and transportation industry.

“New Downstream” Considerations and Impact

As e-mobility picks up momentum across the world, citizens and corporations alike have been asking themselves: Who should be responsible for developing the charging infrastructure and supporting other vital downstream considerations to support the end operators and/or drivers?

In Europe, a third-party approach similar to that of EWE GO is gaining traction, where an outsourcing vendor is responsible for simplifying the end-to-end mobility practices and operator support. This turnkey approach provides bundled mobility offerings related to knowledge, products, and services in order to increase the ease in which mobility is brought to life.

From a corporate fleet point of view, SAP Executive Ulrich Scholl advises that we must look beyond the boundaries of e-mobility today: “E-mobility is an important building block of mobility in the future.  The need for mobility programs is driven by the demand of employees and should be made easy for all to take part in — including the unique needs of urban employees.”

To increase the adoption of e-mobility offerings, a simple end-user experience is vital, where end-to-end services are provided and integrated into the way organizations operate and define success. It is not just about charging vehicles; there is much more to consider to support the downstream needs of e-mobility today.

Technology’s Role to Support the Electrification of Mobility

Authorities and organizations have varied ambitions for sustainability and carbon neutrality endeavors. Some ambitions are driven by new legislation that mandates a shift in energy consumption, while others are being driven by factors such as cost, consumer demand, risk mitigation, and/or brand reputation.

To prepare for a new normal in mobility, Evolution Energie’s Erwin Guizouarn shares that most customers’ first question surrounds cost. While cost savings is not typically the primary reason why organizations leap to e-mobility, it is a vital consideration that should be thoughtfully approached to help ensure alignment with corporate strategy.

Guizouarn shares that the top four client questions about the adoption of emobility include: How much will we pay? When should we charge the cars – day or night? How can we hedge costs? And how can we minimize risk?

Software solutions can help manage end-to-end operations for charging, procurement, and contracts to effectively manage complexity, including monitoring energy consumption and mitigating risk. Flinois adds that “Everything with e-mobility requires technology, specifically software to manage information including visibility, authority, energy use, and more.”

For firsthand experience and recommendations for an integrated e-mobility approach, watch the on-demand panel discussion here.

Senta Belay is industry solution manager for Travel and Transportation at SAP.