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  • Writer's pictureDr. Andreas Pfeiffer

Pioneer SME - Meffert AG goes E

Welcome to our "behind the scenes" series today with Meffert AG Farbwerke. Since its foundation in 1947, the group of companies headquartered in Bad Kreuznach, Rhineland-Palatinate, has developed into one of Europe's most efficient manufacturers of paints, coatings, plasters and sealants. Like all market players, Meffert AG is also faced with the task of developing sustainable business practices. In the following interview, we therefore turn our attention to another specific measure within its "lean&green" sustainability initiative - electromobility for the commercial fleet.

We will dive deep into the process, which ranges from conception to implementation. The key strategies and challenges involved will be highlighted for you, providing examples of how active environmental protection and operational efficiency go hand in hand.

Join us in conversation with Dr.-Ing. Ronald Große, who played a key role in the development and project planning, and Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer, who supported the project as a strategic consultant from greenventors GmbH.

Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer (greenvntors GmbH) & Dr.-Ing. Ronald Große (Meffert AG Farbwerke)
Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer (greenventors GmbH) & Dr.-Ing. Ronald Große (Meffert AG Farbwerke)

Dr. Große, could you give us an overview of the scope of the fleet conversion? How many vehicles have been converted and what is planned for the future?

Dr. Große: The goal is to convert our company fleet of around 150 vehicles to almost 100% electric vehicles in the next 6 years. We started the project in mid-2022 and initially used an online survey to determine various user profiles of our company car drivers. Two of these user profiles are already particularly suitable for switching to an electric vehicle. We have therefore already been able to convert around 30 company vehicles to electric vehicles. A further 40 vehicles are currently on order and we are planning to use them in 2024. We are taking various deployment scenarios into account in order to maximize the efficiency and availability of the vehicles.

What application scenarios are these and how were they taken into account in the project?

Dr. Große: We have identified three main usage scenarios: Charge at Home for our field staff, Charge at Office for the pool vehicles and Charge enRoute for long-distance journeys. For Charge at Home, we have launched a support program for our employees that supports the installation of wallboxes at home. Charge at Office was realized by setting up an intelligent charging infrastructure on our premises in conjunction with a massive PV expansion. And for Charge en Route, we have partnered with charging providers along our employees' main routes. The basis for all charging processes is a flexible backend, which generates the information our fleet manager needs for his daily work at the push of a button.

I would like to emphasize that it was important for our project team to create maximum acceptance for the topic among all stakeholders. This can only work if you have already identified the employees' questions and fears and prepared the appropriate solutions for them.

Dr. Pfeiffer, after Dr. Große told us about the successful electrification project of Meffert AG Farbwerke, we would like to find out more about how greenventors structures such a project.

Dr. Pfeiffer: Our "EV Integration Methodology", which we have developed and tested in practical projects, follows a seven-step process. We start with a needs analysis, followed by comprehensive stakeholder management. We then develop a detailed concept that moves into the planning phase. After planning, the implementation of the infrastructure follows. Once this is in place, we focus on operation and maintenance and complete the cycle with evaluation and scaling in order to continuously improve the infrastructure and adapt it to growing requirements.

EV Integration Methodology by greenventors
EV Integration Methodology by greenventors

Dr. Große, your project at Meffert is a prime example of sustainable innovation. Can you give us some numbers that support this success?

Dr. Große: By switching to electric mobility, we will reduce the CO2 emissions of our company car fleet from around 800 tons per year to significantly less than 300 tons. This corresponds to a saving of around 500 tonnes of CO2 per year - that is as much as a forest with 4000 trees can absorb in a year, which corresponds to around 4 hectares of forest.

Dr. Pfeiffer, in your opinion, who are the relevant stakeholders and shareholders in such an important sustainability project?

Dr. Pfeiffer: A project of this magnitude affects many areas of a company and beyond. In addition to the employees and the company management, who have to offer a vision and support, the fleet manager and the facility managers are key figures. They are the ones who know the day-to-day operations and ensure that the transition goes smoothly. In the specific case of Meffert AG, the trusted house and farm electrician was also a crucial stakeholder. His expertise and commitment were essential for the successful installation and maintenance of the charging infrastructure.

Dr. Große, how much charging infrastructure has been implemented at Meffert?

Dr. Große: There are now more than 50 parking spaces with access to AC charging infrastructure and a 150kW HPC available for the company vehicles at the headquarters in Bad Kreuznach. All other German locations were also equipped with charging infrastructure. This number may seem high at first, but we have chosen a future-proof strategy that already takes into account the planned expansion of the fleet. In addition, the management has decided that our field staff will receive internal funding to compensate for the loss of KfW funding for private charging stations. This ensures that our field staff can charge their vehicles overnight, guaranteeing optimal availability for the next working day. Compensation is made in a tax-compliant manner based on data from our backend system.

Dr.-Ing Ronald Große, responsible for fleet electrification at paint manufacturer Meffert AG Farbwerke, in front of the charging park in Bad Kreuznach
Dr.-Ing Ronald Große (Meffert AG Farbwerke) in front of the loading park on the company premises in Bad Kreuznach

Dr. Pfeiffer, how do you assess the importance of such an infrastructure for the future of electromobility in companies?

Dr. Pfeiffer: A robust charging infrastructure is the backbone of electromobility in every company. It is not only crucial for daily operations, but also a visible sign of the company's commitment to sustainability. Meffert has sent a clear message here and created an infrastructure that meets not only current but also future requirements. At the same time, it is exemplary how Dr. Große and the Meffert team have thought about the topic of “renewables” here!

Dr. Große, how were the employees involved in the realization of the project?

Dr. Große: The employee survey at the beginning was a key to success. We understood not only their preferences and concerns, but also their willingness to actively participate in the design of the project. Through dialogue with the company car drivers, we were able to recognize early on that the possibility of fast charging at the headquarters in Bad Kreuznach was the key element for acceptance. Some of our employees became electromobility ambassadors, informing their colleagues about the advantages and how to use the new vehicles and the charging infrastructure.

Dr. Große, how did the funding for electromobility influence the change at Meffert?

Dr. Große: The various subsidies have enabled us to reduce the initial costs for converting the fleet and setting up the charging infrastructure. But it wasn't a necessary criterion for us. The change would have occurred even without funding. The installation of PV systems at our locations combined with constantly rising fuel prices make the project lucrative even without funding. Nevertheless, the funding for the charging infrastructure and the purchase bonuses for electric vehicles have made the investments much more attractive for us. At the same time, the incentives for company car taxation from the employee side drove the issue.

This has encouraged us to act faster and more comprehensively than we would have done without this financial support. It was an important catalyst that helped us advance our commitment to sustainability and innovation.

Dr. Pfeiffer, how do you generally see the long-term effects of such projects on operating costs?

Dr. Pfeiffer: Like Dr. Große has already explained, the switch to electromobility and self-generation of electricity not only makes sense from an ecological point of view, but also economically. In the long term, companies like Meffert can significantly reduce their operating costs, particularly by reducing fuel costs and maintenance expenses. The use of solar power also improves the energy balance and contributes to independence from energy price fluctuations. What is crucial here is that intelligent energy management automatically controls and optimizes overall energy management by comparing operational requirements, for example in production, with the needs of the charging infrastructure. In the long term, approaches such as vehicle-to-grid can also lead to further energy cost optimization in practice.

Dr. Pfeiffer, could you give us an overview of the currently available funding for electromobility and which of them are particularly useful for companies?

Dr. Pfeiffer: There are currently a number of funding programs that are very attractive for companies. These include purchase bonuses for electric vehicles, which directly reduce acquisition costs. There are also extensive subsidies for the development of charging infrastructure, which can cover up to 90% of the eligible costs. These subsidies are particularly useful because they not only reduce initial costs, but also support long-term operating cost optimization. There is also funding for the creation of electromobility concepts that help companies plan the switch strategically. These programs are essential to promote electromobility on a broad scale and to make it easier for companies to get started.

If you hear this, Dr. Pfeiffer, do you think that early entry into electromobility makes sense regardless of funding?

Dr. Pfeiffer: Absolutely. The example of Meffert AG shows this impressively. Even without funding, getting started with electromobility is a wise decision. In the long term, the electrification of vehicle fleets leads to significant savings in operating costs, particularly through lower fuel and maintenance costs. It also improves the image of a company as sustainable and future-oriented, which in turn strengthens brand perception. Grants are helpful, but the real driving force should be a long-term strategy that aims at efficiency, cost savings and sustainability.

Today we have been given a deep insight into the transformative journey of Meffert AG Farbwerke, which has grown from a small family business to a leading player in the paint and coatings industry. With a focus on sustainability and efficiency, Meffert has taken a significant step by integrating electric mobility into its commercial fleet. This project, led by Dr.-Ing. Ronald Große and supported by Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer from greenventors GmbH as a strategic sparring partner, shows that environmental awareness and operational efficiency can go hand in hand. The switch to electric vehicles and the installation of an extensive charging infrastructure are not only a commitment to environmental protection, but also a strategic move that promises long-term cost savings. Meffert AG has proven that with the right project management, the involvement of all relevant stakeholders and the use of available subsidies, such a conversion is not only feasible but also economically advantageous.

The "EV Integration Methodology" developed by greenventors can prove to be a valuable and field-tested tool to help companies electrify their fleets sustainably. The seven-step method provides a clear framework for the systematic implementation of electromobility projects and has proven itself in practice.

With this project, Meffert AG has taken on a pioneering role and shown that the transition to a greener future is not just a question of technology, but also of vision and commitment. The savings of around 500 tons of CO2 per year are an impressive testimony to what can be achieved when a company acts decisively.

The discussion today has also made it clear that electromobility is a challenge, but one that can be successfully overcome with a well thought-out approach and the right support. Meffert AG has shown a way in which companies can efficiently electrify their fleets and at the same time make a contribution to environmental protection. This project serves as an inspiration and blueprint for other companies that want to take the step towards a more sustainable future.



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