With the race to net zero gathering pace, eyes are firmly fixed on road transport, a sector that accounts for 16% of global carbon emissions in 2022.
According to BNP Paribas Exane, an expected combination of increased subsidies on a global scale, easing battery metals costs, and manufacturing scale, will help take Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) to the masses, helping drive the percentage of global vehicle sales from 11% in 2022 to nearly 30% by 2026.
In Europe, the Netherlands is emerging as a key player, and market for clean mobility. All new passenger vehicles sold in the Netherlands will be required to be zero-emission by 2030. What’s more, the country currently has one of the most dense charging infrastructure networks for EV transportation with over 100,000 charging points in 2022.
We spoke to two Dutch corporates, who are putting purpose at the heart of their efforts to spur the path to clean mobility.
One Planet Plan
International energy company Eneco is a key player in the Netherlands’ journey towards clean energy. The company is aiming to be climate neutral by 2035 – 15 years earlier than initially planned.
This includes pursuing the radical and large-scale electrification of mobility – as well as industry and the built environment – using renewable energy. Through subsidiary Eneco eMobility, the company is focused on electric charging solutions throughout the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany for both business and individual consumers.
To achieve its ambitions, the company is placing purpose at the heart of its activities. This means defining how an organisation solves a societal problem and creates value for shareholders and stakeholders beyond generating profit.
Speaking at the recent BNP Paribas Sustainable Future Forum (SFF), Jeanine Tijhaar, CFO of Eneco Netherlands, explained: “Eneco is a purpose-led company. I believe we have the guts to embark on a real journey under our One Planet Plan, which aims to ensure we live within the planet’s natural boundaries, to a 1.5 degree climate scenario”, says Tijhaar. “We not only help ourselves but also our customers on that journey.”
Eneco is embedding these principles at the very core of its business plan.
“Sustainability is not something we do on the side”, notes Tijhaar. “We aim for all of our leaders to be carbon leaders, each with a carbon budget and incentives in place. We are also embedding purpose within our financing activities.”
❝ Sustainability is not something we do on the side. We aim for all of our leaders to be carbon leaders. We are also embedding purpose within our financing activities. ❞
Seeing the future
The Netherlands-based operator is aiming to build a low-cost European network of fast charging stations. It currently operates around 200 across Europe and the UK, which it hopes to grow to 1,000.
Michiel Langezaal, CEO of Fastned, also speaking at SFF, realised early on the need for charging infrastructure: “Around 12 years ago, I drove one of the first mass-produced electric cars. It became very clear that without an abundant charging network, people would not start making the shift to driving EVs. With Fastned, we set out to build charging infrastructure throughout Europe, helping them to make that shift.”
Langezaal believes that consumers need to collectively believe in the benefits of fast charging in order to drive adoption. And with growing EV adoption, fast charging prices can come down, as it allows charging stations to deliver more kWh per day with only modest increases in expenditure.
“People used to think electric cars were like golf carts. They didn’t see they were becoming a serious alternative to traditional cars: batteries becoming cheaper, regulation becoming stricter, an EV having very little maintenance compared to a fossil car”, he notes. “An electric car is just a better product in the end; it just needed a bit of time to get there.”
❝ People used to think electric cars were like golf carts. They didn’t see they were becoming a serious alternative to traditional cars. An electric car is just a better product in the end; it just needed a bit of time to get there. ❞
Langezaal concludes: “If you want to solve a real problem, you need to be led by purpose. Yes, you need to make money and assure shareholders to deliver on that purpose, but it’s not the other way around.”
Investing in progress
For Eneco, purpose goes beyond the company’s own activities. Through Eneco Ventures, the company acts as a venture capital and growth financing investor, collaborating with start-ups and scale-ups that support the sustainable transition.
“For many years we’ve had quite an intense programme of corporate ventures. If we have a strategic angle, we help promising ventures to get the capital they need, and we supply them with the knowledge or our customer base”, explains Tijhaar. “We also benefit from their speed, agility and flexibility. So we can innovate by joining forces. It’s all about building ecosystems that are sustainable.”
Successful investments by Eneco Ventures in the mobility space have included Jedlix, an EV platform helping consumers getting an optimal smart charging experience in the energy and e-mobility ecosystem; and Greenflux, a European software platform supporting the operations of charge point operators globally. Eneco exited the ventures in 2020 and 2021 respectively, but it remains a partner to both.
BNP Paribas embeds this philosophy within its own company purpose, which involves mobilising its resources and partnering with clients to create a better future. In 2021, the Bank teamed up with the Solar Impulse Foundation to launch the BNP Paribas Solar Impulse Venture fund, a €150 million investment fund dedicated to supporting innovative climate tech start-ups with positive environmental impact.
Matthieu Soulé, Venture Partner, BNP Paribas Solar Impulse Venture Fund and Head of BNP Paribas C. Lab Americas, points to a growing trend: “There are so many exciting innovations happening in the start-up ecosystem that will play an important role in decarbonising mobility in the coming decade. We have new vehicle manufacturers and battery players, circular economy for key materials and many ways to optimise transportation. Greener boats and planes are coming too. By sharing expertise, distribution opportunities and capital, large corporates – as well as banks – can really help these players to fulfil their potential.”
❝ There are so many exciting innovations happening in the start-up ecosystem. By sharing expertise, distribution opportunities and capital, large corporates, as well as banks, can really help these players to fulfil their potential. ❞
Sustainable mobility is a key area of investment for the fund. For example, Ridecell is a start-up portfolio company, managed by the fund’s ecological transition venture team, that is powering operators to better manage their vehicle fleets and reduce their emissions through enhanced shared mobility.
Green mobility solutions across the value chain
The BNP Paribas Group aims to become the leading partner in mobility consulting and financing. BNP Paribas CIB supports corporate clients with strategic advisory and financing solutions, and by connecting them with the right investors in a fast-changing landscape.
Working with CIB experts, BNP Paribas Arval and Leasing Solutions support businesses wishing to switch their corporate fleet and make new asset investments to more sustainable vehicles and machinery, such as tractors, construction equipment and trucks.
Across the EV value chain
The Bank delivers for clients across the whole EV value chain, including:
- An inaugural green bond for General Motors (2022)
- A US$400 million sustainable club loan for Geely Auto, the first for a Chinese automaker (2022)
- A US$ 2 billion ECA-backed green loan for rechargeable battery manufacturer SK On’s European expansion (2022)
- IONITY’s €700m investment (2021)
- The world’s first hydrogen mobility financing for Hyundai Motor Group in Switzerland (2021)
- Financing Australia’s Pilbara lithium mining to produce EV batteries (2021)
- A debut €500 million 7-year green bond for Volvo Cars (2020)
- Daimler’s first green bond (2020)
In 2023, BNP Paribas acted as Exclusive Advisor, Joint Global Coordinator and Bookrunner in the IPO and pre-IPO funding round for Lhyfe, allowing the pioneering hydrogen company to accelerate the development of its production sites across Europe, to strengthen its business development and engineering teams in the Group’s target geographies, and to pursue its investments.
The Bank also acted as Financial Advisor to e-mobility pioneer BRUSA HyPowerAG on its private placement to Bosch Rexroth, M&G and Temasek. The investment aims to accelerate product development and scale manufacturing capabilities to meet the rising demand for energy conversion systems for fuel cell and battery electric vehicle applications.
A transformational partnership
In 2023, Jaguar Land Rover and BNP Paribas launched a suite of new mobility financing services across nine European markets as part of their strategic partnership. The collaboration is the first phase of a transformational plan to reimagine the role of financial services for clients of the automotive giant’s Range Rover, Defender, Discovery and Jaguar brands.
This article is based on insights from the BNP Paribas Sustainable Future Forum.