To some in the automotive aftermarket the prospect of massive moves to electric vehicles may appear as a dark cloud in the rapidly approaching future but if you are involved in the parts supply business as long as OTTO, then every cloud has a silver lining.
Since early in 2019, OTTO has been using electric vehicles as an integral part of our delivery fleet in Dublin. Way back then there were so many more questions than answers regarding the technical ability of electric vehicles, how robust the engineering of these new storage and drive systems would be, how practical electric charging would be or become, these questions were just the tip of the iceberg. Even being as closely coupled to the OEM parts producers as OTTO is, really good and well informed facts regarding the state of the technology were difficult to establish.
In our world there is only one way to be a leader and that is to press on out in front and make the brave calls. We had so much to learn about electric vehicles, every facet of ownership, operation, maintenance and all the quirks operating any vehicle that one takes completely for granted but which are often very new and very different with a technology change such as this. OTTO didn’t make a big “song and dance” about our move to an electric delivery fleet but if you pardon the choice of word, we just quietly swapped our fleet to all electric.
“Did we learn anything?” you may ask and the simple answer is yes. The regime that our delivery fleet is subjected to operating all over Dublin City and as far as 50km radius or so into the suburban satellite towns of the Capital teaches us quite a lot. How one typically operates a vehicle becomes a very narrow habit of behaving very normally. So many practices become “muscle memory”, just things that one does because it is how things have always been. Switching over to a radically different technology allows our logistics managers the chance to examine how OTTO does things and ask “is this the best way?”, “how efficient are we at [insert your choice of objective here]?”, “are we dynamic or stuck in our own ways?”. This can be equally frightening and enlightening when undertaken as an honest evaluation of one’s self or one’s operation. Going back to our goal of leading the charge (sorry, this will keep happening) to electric delivery vehicles, this very enlightening exercise has really taught us quite a lot. Empowering in fact! (sorry, again).
Completely aside from gaining an intimate knowledge for the technology and the best way to embrace the many advantages of electric vehicles, OTTO now has a powerful insight into ownership, maintenance and the parts supply opportunities that exist within the electric vehicle sphere. As an independent OEM supplier for more than 25 years in Ireland the close relationships OTTO has established with parts manufacturers is again proving hugely important. Electric vehicles may not sport dirty, oily engines full of rattling bits and pieces but they are no less complex than the highest specification internal combustion powered cars you can buy in 2021. What we in OTTO were surprised to discover was just how much we could learn in as little as three years operating electric cars all day every day and by just how much we improve our knowledge daily.
In the past, many a garage and motor enthusiast alike have swayed towards OTTO because of the sound knowledge and experienced advice we have offered. Perhaps this little glimpse into how we size up and accept a challenge reveals how OTTO ticks and where the knowledge comes from; the merger of our DNA with our experience we would suggest. Even at this early stage in our adoption of the technology we are confident that we are ahead of the game already and armed with powerful insight.
Looking into the future with the experience we have gleaned from the last three years, then to us the future appears very bright. Our experience has been so positive (its hard to avoid all these words!) we are now rolling out our EV fleet into branches outside Dublin with our first electric delivery car in Cork. Keep an eye out for our BMW i3’s delivering your OEM car parts around the capital and expect to see many more electrics as we expand the fleet further.