SAP company cars all electric - thanks to the sun on the Côte d'Azur
Pioneering an electric company car scheme, the Sophia-Antipolis software company is setting an example for all businesses. Aila Stockmann reports from the campus.
SAP Labs France is consolidating its position as a pioneer in e-mobility. The fleet of around 300 company cars for the software engineers in Sophia-Antipolis, Caen and Paris consists almost exclusively of electric cars. Now, at the location on the Côte d'Azur, a respectable portion of the electricity required is self-produced by the company and a specially designed app regulates supply and demand for charging. External, non-employee e-car drivers can also "refuel" on the company premises in Mougins. However, followers of the comprehensive eco-concept are still struggling to implement such a comprehensive program, both regionally and globally.
For the past seven years, the Mougins site has been working specifically to convert its fleet of company cars to an all-electric fleet. Hanno Klausmeier, president of SAP Labs France, which is located in the Sophia-Antipolis technology park in the south of France, says he consulted his ‘crystal ball’ at the time – ‘like the witches and wizards in the Middle Ages’ – or, in a more relevant comparison, like the five young IBM engineers almost 50 years ago who believed in the future of consumer software sold in stores, and were not listened to by their bosses. These engineers then founded their own company: SAP.
"You have to look into the future. That makes the difference." Hanno Klausmeier, President of SAP Labs France
Klausmeier has held this vision for a while. He was already convinced of the future of e-vehicles in individual transport in 2014 and has been pushing the use of emission-free company cars with his team ever since. From 2019, employees of SAP Labs France, who have the standard benefit of a company-funded private car, have been allowed to choose exclusively e-cars. Around the company building in Mougins, there is now a colourful selection of almost all electric cars on the market. During the week, 50 charging points are available to the employees and some of them to external e-vehicle drivers in the largest charging park in the Alpes-Maritimes department (including extremely powerful fast chargers) for refuelling.
The employees were not immediately as convinced about electric rolling as their boss. Charging an electric car has to be planned ahead and long distances are lengthened by charging stops. "But acceptance has become much higher," says Klausmeier. "Of course, there are still a few naysayers, but they are becoming fewer and fewer. I would dare to say that 80 per cent of employees are fully convinced of e-mobility." At any rate, the figures prove him right: 93 per cent of company car users at SAP Labs France now drive a Tesla, Zoe or other.
Consequently, the company produces part of the electricity it consumes itself. The roof of the sunny company building in Sophia-Antipolis has been adorned with solar panels for several years, and two vehicle shelters with solar roofs are new. The captured solar energy now covers the building's entire electricity needs, including servers, computers and other technology. Electricity is purchased externally for the charging stations of the e-vehicles.
On the 24th of September, the new vehicle shelters and two huge batteries for electricity storage were officially inaugurated at the Mougins site. In addition to a representative of the Sud/Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA) region, the sub-prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes department was also among the guests. Anne Frackowiak-Jacobs told RIVIERAZEIT: "The initiative of SAP Labs France corresponds exactly to what the government expects and promotes. We also support such developments financially and count on such examples setting a precedent."
So far, other companies in Sophia-Antipolis, but also other SAP locations around the world, have found it difficult to copy the southern French example. Although many visitors come to see the Mougins model explained on site, according to Hanno Klausmeier, it has not yet been copied anywhere with the same consistency.
In order to manage and optimally use the charging infrastructure, a team from SAP Labs has specially developed software with an app for smartphones. Among other things, "Open E-Mobilty" indicates when a car is "filled up" so that it can be uncoupled and make room for the next user.
"If 20 million vehicles want to charge electricity in France tomorrow, everything has to work together," explains Open E-Mobility project manager Gérald Seiler. He and his team are tinkering with the smooth functioning of a cleaner future in the company's "technology garage" - locally and far beyond, or so they hope at SAP Labs. Whether with or without a crystal ball remained a secret...