Biffa and Lunaz exemplify EV fleet partnership opportunity

Speaking with the Head of Fleet Development at Biffa Darren Judd, he explains partnerships are crucial in electrification and the opportunities presented

In September 2023, we covered the story of the waste management company Biffa and its partnerships with Lunaz—a dedicated ICE to EV conversion business. Prior to this, we saw Lunaz’s interesting ideas coming to life in the form of classic car models that have been built to match their original specification, minus their engines. 

This wasn’t a partnership that we were aware of until the announcement, but there is something to be said for this taking shape. Previous coverage suggested small startups will help the most established businesses enter their fleet into the electric era, and this has now been proven in a partnership to upcycle fuel-burning bin lorries. 

So, why are partnerships so important to businesses as electrification comes around? Facing a number of new challenges across various industries, fleet operators are beginning to realise the benefits of employing the help of strategic partners to help them get to grips with new technologies to allow them to decarbonise. This is in line with the general trend over the past few years whereby organisations are less precious and are more open to the benefits that a variety of expertise can bring to their business. 

All companies have to do is choose wisely. Companies life Biffa are lucky as they have fewer partnership opportunities to choose from, but generally, the choice of organisations within other areas must be rather overwhelming. Electrification as an industry is still growing and there are very few conversations about ICE conversion as there are talks of new fleet vehicles, managed fleets, and so on. 

The EV sector opened up a lot of scope for businesses to stand out from the crowd, which aided Biffa in the partnership decision process. 

“The first and most crucial step is to assess the technology within the vehicle to ensure it aligns with our specific needs, such as meeting the required battery life,” says Darren Judd, Head of Fleet Development at Biffa. 

“While there are numerous manufacturers in the market offering similar services, Lunaz set itself apart by going beyond mere motor replacement, delivering impressive quality and proven performance in trials. One thing that stood out among our team was the unique conversion process. Unlike some competitors who opt for dark interiors, Lunaz offers a brighter and more appealing interior which makes a difference when you’re spending a lot of time in them.” 

Technological change creates unorthodox partnerships 

At the forefront of all changes in the EV sector is technology. Digital transformation is discussed a lot from a corporate standpoint, but is realistically evolving everywhere. Alongside the demand for consultants to guide businesses down the correct paths commercials, it’s the technology providers that are able to drive them in those directions. 

As a result, companies are experiencing some unorthodox changes, particularly when the automotive sector is experiencing a major revolution in industrial systems and digital functions. 

“Our EV experience has introduced unconventional partnership opportunities in unexpected ways. It prompted us to consider collaboration with electricity suppliers and other businesses for B2B charging solutions, something we never contemplated beforem: says Judd.

“For example, we're engaging with Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) to understand our electric capacity, addressing the challenge of charging commercial trucks. These discussions extend beyond charging to innovative ideas like taking lunch breaks at charging stations and using their facilities. We're exploring uncharted territories in B2B collaborations that were non-existent in the diesel world.”

With any electrification partnership, views must be aligned. Organisations thrive on the fact that companies in the industry are all dedicated to the same mission. Despite there being minimal alternative solutions like Lunaz, Biffa still takes pride in being selective of its partner in this project. So, we asked Judd what the company looks for in a strategic partner.

“Firstly, a partner needs to demonstrate its willingness to engage to make a positive difference, built on trust, shared goals and mutual growth. We want to grow with each other and that is exactly what Lunaz has set out to achieve,” says Judd. 

“They are extremely keen to listen to our advice, working collaboratively with our front-line operation team, being on hand to support in any way they can. It helps that the quality of their work is outstanding - our drivers have been extremely impressed with the vehicles and Lunaz has ensured they completely understand them as well.”

It’s to be expected that more innovative partnerships like this will appear in the industry. With much of the attention of passenger-electric cars, there is still a large number of alternative vehicles to source for industrial applications and the leisure and lifestyle sector. While EV growth is paramount, the industry is now able to shift its focus to more complex tasks, such as electrifying service vehicles and ensuring that necessary industries are decarbonised.

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