Why OHPEC Exists
OHPEC was formed in order to provide Auckland with a truly sustainable and viable passenger service. By choosing to ride in a fully electric car, such as a Tesla from OHPEC, passengers will help make Auckland a cleaner and quieter city, as well as reduce their carbon footprint. Tesla cars also offer great performance, comfort and safety.
OHPEC is structured to treat our environment, customers and drivers in a proper manner.
There are no investors in the company and nobody financially gains from any profit or capital gain that OHPEC may generate. The sole shareholder and CEO works pro bono except when driving.
Being sustainable requires action. Words used mainly for self-promotion, as most companies in New Zealand do, are not enough. The challenge that Climate Change poses requires action, by every one of us. Expressing the desire for someone else to do something is not going to achieve what is necessary. We must all do what we can now. We can have a much better future, and avoid a catastrophic climate, if we bother to make the effort. We have failed to do anywhere near what is required despite knowing that Climate Change is a serious threat. This means that past and current approaches to get the required action have failed. OHPEC is trying a different approach and that includes calling out those entities who fail to act, contrary to what they publicly profess to desire and support.
Our customers will not have confirmed rides cancelled on them. This is not the case with other ridesharing companies.
Our customers only pay a cancellation fee once the vehicle is on the way. This is not the case with most other companies.
OHPEC has actively chosen to ensure that our drivers earn a decent income at all times. They will always earn at least 'The Living Wage'. Our drivers are expected to earn a true income, after all expenses, at least 50% more than that earned while driving for other ridesharing companies, where they are often earning a true income less than the minimum wage.
Our drivers are employees, rather than contractors, and therefore get all the benefits and protections that being an employee offers.
"Use Us" or "Lose Us"
As can be seen from the following paragraphs, companies in Auckland are not supporting Auckland having a successful and sustainable passenger service. Authorities are working against the required switch to Electric Vehicles. We have structured and priced OHPEC's services to make them a desirable choice for Aucklanders. It is not a foregone conclusion that OHPEC will be around after the next few months. It is going to be up to you to support OHPEC, and help us to survive and grow.
The current situation is that OHPEC is prevented from doing casual pickups from Auckland Airport, and will likely not be able to do so until June 2019. This is despite OHPEC having requested engagement with Auckland Airport on the matter.
This means that our clients must prebook us. This is 50% more expensive for the client, and greatly reduces the likelihood that a passenger will use OHPEC. A visitor to New Zealand leaving the airport terminal building, and looking at all the taxis at the ranks, will only see ICE vehicles. Their first impression of Auckland will be that we do not have fully electric transport available as an option for them. Their impression is that we are not even attempting to be sustainable. They will mostly be correct.
Auckland Airport publicly states that they want to "lead by example", offer “a convenient, low-emissions transport option” and identify “more sustainable transport options“, but in this case they are not following their words with action.
OHPEC has approached many hotels in Auckland and none has given OHPEC access to casual pickups. This is due to existing multi-year contracts with Corporate Cabs or Co-op Taxis. Hotels also refuse to offer our services to their guests at all, even though they acknowledge that many of them would like to have the option of a fully electric service, in a Tesla no less, and that our service is cheaper than their current offerings. If you use a hotel in Auckland, then you will likely have to book us directly via our app.
When beginning operations in New Zealand in March 2017, Tesla stated that they would have Superchargers in Auckland in June 2017. This then slipped to Q3 2017, then Q4 2017, then Q1 2018 and now Q2 2018. During these slippages OHPEC was ordering vehicles and in discussions with Tesla to get the required charging. As late as November 2017 Tesla kept telling OHPEC that if we ordered more cars they would look at getting the charging infrastructure installed. In November 2017 Tesla then banned all new vehicles from using Superchargers for taxi use. Tesla will not supply OHPEC with a full speed chargers we could install ourselves i.e OHPEC are now unable to full speed charge their vehicles. Each sale of a vehicle to OHPEC is worth 10-20 sales to private owners with respect to emissions reduction due to the distances driven. It is a sad fact for OHPEC, and an expensive fact for me, that Tesla was not interested in supporting their sales of vehicles to OHPEC with the required charging. OHPEC having to cease operating it's fleet was directly caused by Tesla not installing the required charging that they so often said they would.
Westpac bank touts itself as a leader in supporting the CleanTech sector. They do this on their website and in conferences etc. Westpac's claims include "We have set clear targets for driving growth of this important sector and developed partnerships that will provide a collaborative approach to accelerating low carbon solutions.", "We have made it a strategic focus to increase lending to the clean technology and environmental services (CleanTech) sector..." and "We are determined to work with others to influence stakeholders and develop business-led solutions."
OHPEC has attempted to get both commercial and personal funding from Westpac for our vehicles. Westpac have declined our applications. This is despite the loans being more than 100% guaranteed with assets and OHPEC having funds to service the loans. Westpac has our business case and projections. Companies such as Westpac need to stop using sustainability as a marketing tool and proactively stand behind their claims to be leading the effort.
As it so happens, we are now becoming cashflow positive and our situation keeps improving. OHPEC will continue to pursue avenues to fund our upcoming cars.
Auckland Transport has decided to deny access to T2/T3 lanes to Electric Vehicles, against the expressed desire of the Government. This is despite their single sentence mission statement being "Working together to deliver safe, innovative and sustainable transport for a great city." It appears that "working together" does not include supporting the Government's stated desire. "safe" does not seem to include reducing vehicle exhaust emissions in our city. "innovative and sustainable" does not seem to apply to Electric Vehicles. A "great city" does not seem to be one where Electric Vehicles replace petrol and diesel vehicles.
However, Auckland Transport does allow Passenger Service Vehicles access to the transit lanes, whether or not they have a passenger. Passenger Service Vehicles increase traffic both generally, and specifically in the transit lanes, and virtually every one of them is an ICE vehicle emitting pollutants. There are far more Passenger Service Vehicles in Auckland, and orders of magnitude more trips made by those vehicles, than Electric Vehicles. Auckland Transport chooses to give access to vehicles which are bad for the city, while actively denying access to vehicles which are better for the city.
NZTA is running a 1 year trial, on a select few motorway on-ramp transit lanes, to see if they will allow Electric Vehicles access to those lanes, and the other transit lanes, after the trial ends. NZTA is well aware that Electric Vehicles are a small fraction of 1% of the vehicles which can use the lanes. NZTA knows that they will not be able to detect any change to traffic during the trial. NZTA is not doing a trial for all the extra Passenger Service Vehicles, such as Uber, which automatically get access to the lanes from October 1, and are far greater in number. The NZTA trial is nothing but a delaying tactic to deny Electric Vehicles access to the lanes.
NZTA regulations prevent the use of the 3rd row seats in vehicles like the Model X when used as a passenger service vehicle. These regulations do not improve public safety, and in fact lessen the safety of passengers when those passengers use less safe vehicles instead. The regulations double the number of vehicles required for 5 or 6 passengers and increase the cost to the passengers. The NZTA upper management have shown no interest in reviewing these counterproductive regulations.
Having said that, sections of the NZTA responsible for other matters have acted sensibly and helpfully when dealing with OHPEC.
VIP Transport Service
In November 2017 OHPEC was approached by the provider of the government's transport, namely VIP Transport Service which is part of the Department Of Internal Affairs. We had a meeting and they expressed a desire to sign us up as a provider ASAP. This was done within a week. To my knowledge they have not used us once.
The previous National government had no interest in reducing our carbon emissions. In fact, they actively pursued policies to increase our emissions, such as opening new areas to oil exploitation and encouraging dairy farming. They neutered the Emissions Trading Scheme, failed to put in place worthwhile incentives for Electric Vehicle purchase and use, and failed to put in incentives or regulations to encourage Solar PV. New Zealand's emissions have increased over 50% since 1990, but under the Kyoto agreement they should have reduced. Other countries have reduced their emissions, have numerous incentives, policies and regulations to decrease emissions, and have a real commitment to reducing carbon emissions and combating the coming Climate Change catastrophe.
Do not believe a word a Government says. Judge them by their actions and our resulting emissions. So far our new Labour/Green/NZ First government has continued in the same vein as National. They have announced a Climate Change commission in May 2018 followed by a policy announcement by October 2018. Such a long delay is unacceptable. There are many internationally tested policies which should be implemented ASAP.
New Zealand can be 100% electric. Our air would be less polluted, our cities quieter and cleaner, our country would save on oil imports, consumers would save on their energy costs, we would contribute to the international effort to fight Climate Change.
It is a win win win situation, if we choose to pursue it.