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In the ever-evolving landscape of sustainable transportation, the transition to electric vehicles (EVs) stands as a significant milestone for many organizations. And this transition is not without its challenges, primarily revolving around behaviour change and logistical considerations.

Suncorp has embarked on an exciting journey towards transitioning to net zero emissions. As part of this journey, Fiona Bednarz, Executive Manager of Environment & Climate, and Jacki Butwell, Operations Manager of Real Estate, Insurance Claims & Operations, recently shared their insights on the crucial role of electric vehicles (EVs) in achieving their sustainability goals. They shed light on the lessons learned so far and the challenges that lie ahead.

Key Lessons

One of the key lessons the company has discovered is that transitioning to EVs is not solely about the technology but also involves a significant focus on changing behaviors and addressing logistical considerations. A survey conducted among employees revealed that 70% of the insurance drivers expressed resistance to transitioning to EVs.

This highlights the challenge of managing behavioral change within the organization. To address this, Suncorp Group recognizes the need for extensive education and change management initiatives to bring employees up to speed on sustainability, EVs, and climate change.

Another critical aspect of the transition is securing buy-in from all levels of leadership within the organization. While some individuals are passionate about sustainability and EVs, others may not share the same enthusiasm. It is crucial for decision-making processes to involve high-level executives who can drive the transition forward and ensure its successful execution.

To facilitate employee engagement and empower individuals to contribute to the sustainability journey, Suncorp has established employee resource groups. One notable group is called “Team O,” consisting of passionate employees dedicated to sustainability. This team collaborates to identify organization-wide and individual initiatives related to waste reduction, electricity consumption, and responsible disposal practices.

Challenges and Overcoming Them

Implementing the transition to EVs has been a complex process. The initial plan involved partnering with Origin to conduct a trial. However, various internal teams, such as the E-team, safety team, and risk team, raised concerns and necessitated additional requirements before moving forward. Over the course of detailed planning spanning approximately 12 months, they’ve ensured compliance with employee relations, benefits, and safety aspects, as well as addressing the emotive nature of taking away existing benefits from employees.

Safety considerations have been paramount throughout the transition process. Remuneration and ensuring that employees are not disadvantaged by the implementation are crucial aspects to address. The company has taken the approach of financially reimbursing employees for their electricity usage. To support this, they have been installing home charging stations in individual employee homes.

However, this strategy comes with complications, including liability, access to homes, and variations in electrical infrastructure. Data collection on electricity consumption is also essential for emission reporting as a group. To manage this, they’ve selected Schneider charges, which are smart charges capable of providing accurate usage data. To streamline the process, a simplified approach of reimbursing employees at an average rate has been adopted.

The Way Forward

The company plans to pilot 14 EVs in the coming months as part of their test and learn phase. Working groups comprising representatives from various business units within the organization collaborate monthly to determine the best management practices for incorporating EVs into their respective units.

Valuable feedback received through employee surveys has highlighted concerns about range anxiety and power capabilities. To address these concerns, Suncorp Group plans to organize drive days where employees can experience driving EVs firsthand, dispelling any misconceptions and showcasing the superior performance of EVs compared to traditional vehicles.

The journey towards transitioning to net zero emissions and the adoption of EVs requires a comprehensive and multifaceted approach. Suncorp Group is committed to educating and engaging employees, securing leadership buy-in, addressing logistical complexities, ensuring employee satisfaction, and prioritizing safety.