The history of CleanCar
A brief history of CleanCar and a look to the future… In the words of Alex Baker, CEO and founder.
Welcome to CleanCar and thanks for taking the time to visit our Blog. As a user of the CleanCar system, you may find it useful to have a brief understanding of the system. The understanding of how CleanCar’s solution developed over the past 5 years. We will be explaining how we plan to further evolve, with the help of customers and partners like you, in the future.
CleanCar started as a happy accident…
A kind of eureka moment borne out of necessity. It began back in 2013 when at the time I was running a GPS Mileage Expenses business. The business that enabled Fleets and their drivers to automate their HMRC mileage expense claim process. This was also a fleet solutions company. It was via a self-install plug-in GPS device which collected their journey data to automate their claim form submissions. Drivers and admin staff simply logged into our system and selected which trips were private or business. Once completed it then created an HMRC compliant mileage expense claim. The mileage expenses business was going well, but like most technology start-ups. We needed funds to develop the system and grow the team.
So, proving Plato’s “necessity is the mother of invention” quote, whilst I was looking for funding for the business particularly from grant funding sources. It became clear that zero funding was available for mileage expense solutions. Although, there were many grants on offer if I had a system with a ‘sustainability and green’ angle that promoted the cleaner transport uptake.
I quickly realised. What we had at the core of our GPS mileage system, with a bit of work and re-development, was not just a slightly “greener” sustainable product. It was something compelling that could help shape the electric mobility sector. As electric vehicle technology was growing and improving as it still is now…
To help explain…
It’s probably easier if I take you back a little into my previous corporate life. This is when I worked for large vehicle funders (Lloyds Bank and General Electric). My role was to help Large Enterprise Fleets to efficiently fund vehicle lease or purchase plus aid operating cost reductions. One of the most incredibly effective tools a fleet could use to achieve these aims was something we called “whole life cost” (also known as the total cost of ownership).
Whole Life Cost
Whole Life Cost looks at all the costs of running a vehicle over a given time and mileage such as depreciation, maintenance, fuel, tax servicing etc. What it effectively enabled fleets to do was to identify more ‘fit for purpose’ vehicles with better engines and higher residual values as opposed to less suitable vehicles. In other words, a car costing £25k to purchase could actually cost less over three years than one costing £20k.
When it comes to Electric Vehicles (EV’s), Whole Life Cost (for the right driver/vehicle usage profile) can work very well. For example; where an EV purchase price can be higher than an equivalent diesel or petrol equivalent (check out our various blogs for more info), the running costs, especially for fuel, tax and servicing, can be significantly less. You end up with a net cost benefit from driving the Electric Vehicles. That’s not the only EV benefit.
The problem with Whole Life Cost is it’s complexity as it requires lots of proprietary data that only exists in the Fleet and Auto industries. By this it means your average driver can’t work it out or even gain access to the relevant data to do so! Also, before trying to work it out if an EV is more cost-effective than the existing petrol/diesel vehicle. The first step is to evaluate accurately if an EV is even a practical option for its specific and in some circumstances, unique usage roster, i.e. is it suitable and fit for purpose?
That was the Eureka moment. I realised that we had a way of:
1.Using GPS data to understand how someone uses their current vehicle
2.Show that person if they are suitable to switch to an electric vehicle or not
3.Show which current EV’s match their needs
4.Explain how much it would cost them to run an EV compared to a new version of their current car
5.Show them the positive environmental impact in terms of actual mileage based 6.CO2 and N0X emissions reductions
7.Help them to make a fully informed decision to prove the case for ‘transition’ from internal combustion to EV cars
So, we had an idea on how we could evolve our GPS platform. We applied for some grant funding and, we got some early success… We got really excited. We built an early prototype and engaged with customers… and. Nothing! Nada!
Everyone (mainly fleets) we talked to loved our system. They loved the concept and they thought it was great but they also thought that these new-fangled electric vehicles would just fly off the shelves. So, we got on with the day job and focused our minds back on the Mileage Expenses customers, knowing electric car technology was still around and being made.
The problem with CleanCar/CleanPea –
The problem with CleanCar (or cleanpea as we called it back then) is we were a bit too early. A common ailment of tech startups, but before too long, the same fleets we had spoken to before started to realise that their drivers were not rushing in droves to buy into electric cars as they were scared! They were scared that the 96 mile range of an electric car or van would not be enough, and would leave them stranded. Range anxiety was born! Before long the phones started to ring and CleanCar was re-born.
For a couple of years, we happily ran the CleanCar business. Servicing the needs of our fleet customers, but I had always yearned for more. I wanted to help the man on the street to make the switch to an EV as, after all, that would be a far more significant impact than just servicing the fleet industry and helping a fleet make the switch to an Electric Fleet.
Roll forward to February this year 2018.
It was time for a change as, for a long time, my heart had been committed to CleanCar. It was difficult, expensive and time-consuming to run two businesses. So, it was time to make some big decisions.
How it happened –
After a number of conversations, some quite heated ones with my fellow shareholders, we decided it was time to split the business. Send the mileage expenses off in one direction and CleanCar in another. It was agreed that The Virtual Forge, one of our early investors and a leading tech development outfit, would buy a majority shareholding in CleanCar and invest heavily into building the team and developing the platform.
The deal was struck back in June this year. Since then, with a huge amount of activity, the team has tripled in size. The Platform development effort has been tremendous and the result is one that I am extremely proud of.
The aims of CleanCar
The aim of all this effort was to build a system. A system that would be capable of handling millions of users as opposed to just thousands of users. In many respects, It was like building a rally car. In that we kept a shell of a system and rebuilt, updated or tinkered with every component removing anything that was surplus to requirements. Then, put in a much better high performance (electric) engine!
The CleanCar system we have today is the early production system. With all the new shiny parts and the new engine, but like a new rally team we still need to prove ourselves. We have a lot of work to do in learning how users want to interact with the system. Continually upgrading and improving. To carry on the metaphor a little, we are at the beginning of the rally season but we have a lot of races to win and a lot to learn, especially from you!
Our plans for the future can be laid out as follows:
- 1.We need to continually improve what we have. In other words, we know that users will get in touch to tell us the parts of the system they like. The parts that stink and ‘hey, I have a good idea’! We need to capture all this feedback and use it to continually improve.email ideas to email@example.com
- 2.We have a huge pipeline of new features we would like to build. Some features will get done, new ones will get added to the list and some will never see the light of day. The key point is we will always be working on this continual improvement process to make CleanCar better and slicker. We will ensure you get to know all the new ideas and improvements as part of this process.
- 3.New ideas: we know that we have some powerful data and we are keen to see what other questions we can answer. For example; is there a city out there looking to electrify its taxis and install fast chargers? Could our system be used to help?
To summarise in a nutshell:
- 1.We have a lot of experience helping fleets to switch from ICE vehicles to EV’s
- 2.We know the process and platform that works is accurate in informing the ‘switch’ decision
- 3.We now want to help private motorists, the consumer, to make the switch to electric mobility
- 4.We have a new parent company that shares our goals and beliefs and is funding this change
- 5.We have completely rebuilt the system to achieve these goals
- 6.We expect some issues to begin with and actively ask for your valuable feedback
- 7.We have big plans for further development
- 8.We have an amazing team who are loyal, experienced and who all share my passion
- 9.We really appreciate having you as a customer and partner
Thanks for taking the time to read our brief history. If you ever want to hear the unabridged version, I will happily take you through it in person.
CEO & Founder
Wanting to find out benefits of Electric Cars that would suit you and save you money? Contact our CleanCar team at firstname.lastname@example.org