Chances are you may have noticed that many commercial vehicles are now electric vehicles — think delivery vans, telecom minivans, utility maintenance trucks, and so on. But there are still many diesel-powered commercial vehicles because it’s simply too expensive and too complicated to switch to an all electric vehicle fleet overnight.

That’s why Pelikan Mobility has been building a platform and a leasing solution that address this challenge caused by the switch to EVs for commercial fleets. The French startup raised a €4 million (about $4.4 million at today’s exchange rate) seed round from Pale Blue Dot, Frst, Seedcamp and others.

Both commercial fleet operations and financing have been designed for traditional vehicles with internal combustion engines. If you want to go beyond a handful of EVs, you have think about charging, range and your everyday operations.

“We have developed a software solution to optimize fleet operations with electric vehicles. It’s not necessarily fleets that are completely electric — they’re generally not there yet. It’s diesel fleet operators who are starting to put electric vehicles into their fleets. And we help them optimize the usage of vehicles according to their capacities,” co-founder and CEO Vincent Schachter told me.

After having registered your entire fleet on Pelikan Mobility and uploaded historical data, the company can automatically create various optimization scenarios that take into account charging times, pricing for diesel and EV charging, range, parking space and more.

Pelikan Mobility goes beyond everyday optimization, as it also takes into account the overall costs associated with each vehicle — capital expenditures are as important as operational expenditures for commercial fleets. EVs tend to cost more when you buy one, for instance. But they’re generally cheaper to operate.

“These are long-term but very accurate scenarios. As we have ingested the fleet’s operational data, we can build a digital twin. In these long-term scenarios, we even simulate daily routes with different vehicle designs, different charging station scenarios, and so on,” Schachter said.

And this software platform unlocks new possibilities on the leasing front. Many companies lease their commercial vehicles and Pelikan Mobility believes that pricing is broken for commercial EVs.

“Leasing has been designed for private cars with internal combustion engines. Leasing contracts — even for commercial vehicles, even for electric vehicles — end far too quickly. These are 3- to 5-year contracts, and the whole business is structured around the resale value of the vehicles,” Schachter said.

“Why do leasers want short contracts? Because carmakers want to sell more models and consumers want the latest model,” he added. But that’s not necessarily true for commercial vehicles. That’s why Pelikan Mobility thinks longer leasing plans make more sense.

“The good news is that electric vehicles last longer than diesel vehicles. They’re longer-lasting assets,” Schachter said. And longer contracts mean that the risks associated with the resale value are lower.

The company expects to start offering its first leasing plans this summer. It will also have to raise a debt fund for that new business as Pelikan Mobility plans to address large customers.

Right now, the startup has seven customers. And when you add up the commercial fleets of these customers, Pelikan Mobility currently tracks a bit less than 100,000 vehicles on its platform. It’s a software-meet-finance play that could potentially make it easier to switch to electric vehicles for fleet managers.

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