Since 2015, Cooltra has held a public contract to rent motorcycles to the Port of Barcelona and, in 2018, it added 100% electric motorcycles to its fleet, which are used by police officers. The Port and Cooltra have had a successful relationship for six years now: “We started with two petrol motorcycles and six pan-European 1,300cc with a four-year contract and then, in new tenders, electric motorcycles were incorporated”, explains Agustín Hidalgo, Head of the Port Authority of Barcelona’s Vehicle Fleet.
Hidalgo spoke to the Cooltra team and explained the reasons why the experience with the motorcycle company is proving successful, as well as the need to foster the use of zero emission vehicles, in the private and public sector alike.
In 2015, Cooltra was awarded its first rental contract with the Port Authority, what has it been like to work with a mobility company for over 6 years? What has the experience been like over the years?
On a private level, Cooltra’s work is highly reassuring. We have used other renting companies in the past and, it is not that they didn’t work well, we just did not have the direct contact that we have had over the last few years with Cooltra. Their implication in ensuring that all vehicles run smoothly, the close relationship and responsibility shown by the workers is something we value highly.
Why has the Port of Barcelona opted for the renting model?
We have been renting for many years, perhaps 16 years. Why renting? There are vehicles that, due to wear and tear, won’t last more than 10 or 11 years. However, with the changes made to engine specifications, with a view to cutting down on polluting emissions, it is not the best option. Furthermore, in the case of police (vehicles), both cars and motorcycles are subject to wear and tear, they work 24 hours a day, and if they are motorcycles that have been bought, before you know it they are old and spending more time in the garage than actually functioning. On the other hand, with renting, on the 1st of January every year you are given information about the costs of vehicles in terms of budget per year and on the other hand, they are renewed every 4 years. On a practical level, this ensures that they are always operational. With Cooltra, we have never run out of vehicles to provide services.
In 2018, you started to incorporate electric vehicles to your fleet. What was the motivation behind this?
We are aware that electric vehicles (motorcycles or cars) are extremely expensive tools. The drawback is the batteries. As an administration, we have to set an example; Barcelona has a very high level of pollution and, as a public administration, we are obliged to foster this type of improvement. At the Port, we analysed our daily mileage and found that it was worthwhile to switch to electric vehicles in many cases and, to be honest, things have gone smoothly. We have thirty-eight 100% electric vehicles, 3 plug-in hybrids, and we are still committed to eco-labelled vehicles.
What is it like to move around on electric motorcycles and what has the feedback from the riders been like?
They can be quite difficult to get used to in the beginning, they are heavy motorcycles, but we have tried out many motorcycles and they work extremely well. The BMW c-evolution can be used for eight hours with complete peace of mind (they are not being ridden all the time) and we also have two charging stations in the ”Barcelona wharf” in the event they need to be charged. They charge quite quickly, they charge to around 25% in roughly one hour.
In terms of image, do you think that your commitment to electric vehicles could encourage other administrations or companies to follow suit?
We still haven’t seen the real impact it has had, but everyone sees our motorcycles riding around, so that surely has an impact. Barcelona’s Guardia Urbana also use these motorcycles; they aren’t often seen in the private sector, but they are starting to become more visible. From a business perspective, I am starting to see an increasing number of electric vehicles around the city, in particular vans, so it is important for public administrations to be users of electric vehicles; it is something that we have to promote, especially large companies and the public sector, which can implement this type of technology more easily and set an example.