D’Ieteren spreads out fleet of shared gas and e-cars in Antwerp
On Monday 15th of January, Belgium’s major car importer D’Ieteren Auto spreads out its Poppy fleet of 350 free floating shared cars in Antwerp. 200 full electric VW e-Golf and 150 Audi A3 CNG.
CEO Denis Gorteman remains rather ambitious in his plans to sell 35 to 40% electric cars by 2025. “Ideal, this is an offer coupled with solar panels and a home battery system”, Gorteman told Le Soir. He thinks about offering such a keyturn package by the end of the year.
33 cent a minute
D’Ieteren Auto is convinced it will sell mobility rather than cars in the future and created the Lab Box branch to start. The free floating Poppy fleet in Antwerp is a first step, a joint venture with Antwerp entrepreneurs Alexander Van Laer (25) and Moos Tits (29).
Cars can be picked up and left after usage in a large defined zone, which differs from the Cambio or Zen Car system that works with fixed parking stations.
In Brussels BMW is already active with its DriveNow fleet. D’Ieteren’s Poppy fleet in Antwerp will mimic the same tariffs with 33 euro cents per minute and a maximum of 90 euro a day. There are 200 full electric VW Golf and 150 Audi A3 on compressed natural gas (CNG).
Good short time compromise
The latter is believed to be a good short time compromise between cost and sustainability. According to the most recent studies CNG is believed to emit 77% less fine particles and 90% less NO2 than diesel. CO2 emissions are somewhat 10% less than petrol.
CNG cars cost on average 1.500 to 2.000 euro more than their petrol equivalents, but the gas is 30% cheaper at the pump. “The cost of ownership is completely competitive”, says Hugo Seghers, Low Emission Vehicles Manager at Group Fleet (D’Ieteren Auto).
CNG increasing with 38%
In Belgium only some 9.000 vehicles on CNG are driving around, but the fleet is growing with 38%. The number of CNG pumps has increased from 15 to more than 90 and dozens of projects are in the pipeline. D’Ieteren has decided to push the technology by levering the price of a CNG car (Golf, Polo) with the petrol car.
“The technology is scarcely known. People systematically confuse it with LPG. It’s a super solution”, D’Ieteren spokesman Jean-Marc Ponteville says. The models on the market are in general bi-fuel, capable to drive on gas or petrol.
‘We need pumps’
Denis Gorteman believes the CNG car to be “probably the vehicle that offers today’s best price-quality balance. But we need pumps. And to invest in pumps, you need a certain number of clients, cars thus. And fiscal certainty, as people hesitate to buy when they don’t know how this will evolve in the next years.”
“Energy companies, being Total or Colruyt, are hesitating to invest in their network. It’s the same with electric cars. You can’t predict the number of cars that will arrive in the market if you don’t have a stable fixed and durable tax framework.”
Belgium electric car paradise
Gorteman said earlier that he expects to sell 35 to 40% electric cars in 2025 in Belgium. That’s even more ambitious than the 25% the VW Group is talking about for Europe. Ambitious? “Yes and no”, Gorteman explains to Le Soir newspaper.
“If you look at the number of people that own their house and the average kilometres driven yearly, then Belgium is a paradise for the electric car. If I announce 35 to 40%, it’s because we really want to take position in the market and be the leader as we are today (21% of the market e.n.).”
Combined with solar panels
The ideal way to get car buyers to take the step to electric, is to make an offer with an electric car combined with solar panels and a backup battery system for the home, Gorteman believes. “This would mean 6.500 to 7.000 euro for solar panels and 6.000 euro for the battery system, making 13.000 to 14.000 euro.”
“You’ll have to take into account six to seven years to earn this back. But when you don’t get a long term perspective, nobody will invest in this, nor in an electric car.”, Gorteman adds. He thinks about offering ‘turnkey systems’ to facilitate his client’s lives.
“We have to come with turnkey systems that take the burden of the client’s shoulders and let them make the technological jump. I think we’ll come with such a package before the end of this year.”