Following the announcement that Volta Trucks has partnered with two global finance companies, we caught up with Alexandre Cleret, Head of Fleet Financing. Hear what he has to say about what the deals mean for our customers and the critical role that financing plays in enabling commercial fleet decarbonisation.
What was your first month like at Volta Trucks?
A whirlwind, yet amazing. When I joined, we were only around 180 employees, and less than 10 in the TaaS (Truck as a Service) team. We had to start from scratch to structure a comprehensive proposition which fulfilled our customers’ needs, and then deliver it at pace because our customers can’t afford to delay their own decarbonization journeys. My priority was to define a finance strategy which offered the most competitive Volta Zero leasing solutions on the market. Twelve months on, it’s a great feeling to know we’ve delivered on that plan so that customers have a choice of great solutions ready to go.
What has been the biggest change you’ve witnessed at Volta Trucks since starting in early 2022?
When I started a little more than a year ago we had built our first prototype. Now we have produced over 60 pre-series vehicles and are on a path to producing 1500 vehicles in 2023. It’s remarkable to think how far Volta Trucks has come in such a short space of time; a challenge most businesses would shy away from, rather than tackle head-on like we have. I’m impressed daily with my colleagues’ focus, execution and agility. Our drive to electrify commercial fleets and make cities more liveable is not only innate to our values, but hugely motivating as we gear up for first customer deliveries later this year.
The same goes for our Truck as a Service proposition. We now have all the tools in place, carefully tuned to our customers’ needs and delivered in conjunction with expert partners, to simplify their transition to electric. We’re redefining what fleets should expect from a manufacturer. In fact, we see ourselves as less a manufacturer and more a business partner who enables electrification for customers. We help them understand their own electrification ambitions and translate this into a realistic roadmap, complete with short-term wins and long-term vision. Through TaaS, the path to electric becomes clearer and the switch can be made quicker.
What has been your biggest realisation so far at Volta Trucks?
Honestly, my biggest realisation since joining is that we’re redefining a product and innovating a service solution, and then delivering both to commercial fleet customers at the same time. It’s unique and unheard of in this industry and has required real outside-the-box thinking to deliver above and beyond what OEMs currently offer.
Finance is a prime example of this. To be able to offer our customers access to a simple range of leading financing solutions, a year-long due-diligence process took place behind the scenes. Financing partners, who shared our vision for an electric future, carried our detailed assessments of the Volta Zero, from the technical features and build quality to driving characteristics and key 3rd party components such as the battery. It required close coordination with our engineering team, who were developing the truck in parallel, allowing each funder to accurately risk-assess. This transparent relationship between ourselves and our finance partners has translated into very competitive terms for our customers. In fact, they’re so competitive, we’re confident customers won’t find better on the market.
Why is financing a catalyst for decarbonisation?
In brief, with an operating lease arranged through us, fleet operators and businesses are protected from unpredictable residual values associated with electric commercial vehicles. There are no high upfront costs to absorb either, as the purchase price of the vehicle is spread over the lease’s holding period. Two crucial risks are therefore removed, allowing the business to confidently and quickly transition and, importantly, achieve their carbon-reducing objectives. Financing also sits within a fleet’s overall operating cost, another important consideration. We know that the total cost of ownership (TCO) of urban electric trucks are already competitive in 2023 compared to diesel. And with direct vision standards and low emission zones in cities increasingly coming into effect, the depreciation costs for diesel trucks will further elevate the TCO competitiveness of electric trucks.
What ownership options are available today to customers?
Customers have access to three ownership options;
– Purchase – Outright purchase of the truck based on its full value, usually funded by the business or external finance provider.
– Finance lease – Monthly instalments based on the full truck value over a fixed period, with transfer of ownership at the end.
– Operating lease – Monthly instalments based on the partial truck value over a fixed period, without transfer of ownership at the end.
Through Truck as a Service, we help customers understand, evaluate and apply for the most appropriate solution based on their business use case, budget and procurement strategy.
What does the future hold, where do you see yourself within Volta Trucks in the next year?
We are expanding our financing team to scale the current solutions developed with our partners. The team is also focussed on ways to smooth the journey for our customers, through credit applications and ready-to-sign contracts for all TaaS elements. We’ll listen to customer feedback and our partners to continually improve and be able to offer the best services and experience.
What do you do to recharge?
I have a passion for watersports, especially kitesurfing and wingfoiling. The best way for me to recharge is to take a train from Paris to Brittany and spend a weekend by the seaside enjoying the water, even in winter!
What gets you up on a Monday morning?
I have a true passion for making our cities better and more livable. What we do here at Volta Trucks means last-mile carriers can enhance the city environments they operate in, through integrating quieter, safer and zero tailpipe emissions trucks into their fleets.Moreover, transport is one of the biggest sources of C02 emissions in advanced economies. What we are doing here helps to tackle that and works towards mitigating the effects of climate change. This is what gets me up on a Monday morning.
Through your own experience and path so far, what are the “lessons” that those just starting out at Volta Trucks can take? What are your tips?
Focus and execution are key, and that it is ok to make mistakes if we then understand what happened and learn from them. I believe that the greatest strength of Volta Trucks is our single mindedness; We focus on the actual customer benefits through delivering a truck that is optimised for their operations with strong solutions to charge, maintain, service, finance and insurance it. We focus, we execute. We make mistakes, we learn from them, we iterate, and we remain on task. That is this the Volta Trucks way.