Unfortunate EV choice won’t help SAP’s Greenhouse Gas reduction commitments

SAP's 2010 Global Greenhouse Gas Footprint

The graph above is taken from the Greenhouse Gas Footprint page of SAP’s Sustainability Report and it shows SAP’s global GHG footprint for 2010. Of particular note in this graph is that globally SAP’s 2010 carbon footprint for corporate cars is 24%. This is up from 23% in 2009 and 18% in 2008. This is obviously a problem for SAP who have publicly committed to reducing their Greenhouse Gas Emissions 51% (from their 2007 baseline) by 2020.

In an effort to help address this SAP decided to embark on a small scale Electric Vehicle (EV) project called Future Fleet. Future Fleet uses a fleet of 30 EV’s charged solely from renewable sources supplied (along with the charging infrastructure) by project partner MVV Energie.

SAP Future Fleet electric vehicle

SAP Future Fleet electric vehicle

SAP are using this project to test employee attitudes to EV’s but also to test their own EV eMobility charging and fleet management software which is being developed, and tested in tandem with the project. The software allows employees to log in and book cars for specific journeys between SAP sites in Germany, or for a day or a week at a time. The software also intelligently prioritises charging of cars based on expected upcoming journey duration, current battery state and other factors.

All good and laudable stuff. However, one major issue I have with the project is that for purely political reasons SAP chose an electric car for the project which seemed to be designed with the distinct purpose of turning drivers off EV’s. This happened because the project was part-funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and they insisted that SAP use a German-made car for the project. I have no idea of the legality of this stipulation but at first glance it would seem contrary to EU legislation.

In any case, SAP went to several large German manufacturers who were unable to provide EV’s for the project. They then found a local co. who took Suzuki car bodies (if memory serves) and installed a purely electric drive-train. This resulted in electric cars which have a number of issues:

  1. the cars’ look ugly – giving lie to the idea that EV’s are small, ugly, box-like cars
  2. the cars’ are incredibly basic inside – no electric windows, no electric mirrors, and a manual transmission (no, really!) and
  3. the cars’ energy management interface is horrible – it is an unreadable single-line LED, as opposed to the Windows-type UI now normal on commercially available EV’s and hybrids

This wouldn’t be so bad except that with SAP’s carbon emissions from corporate cars on the rise, SAP needs to be making EV’s an attractive proposition for its employees. With these cars, SAP risks turning its employees off EVs, and sabotaging its own GHG reduction commitments.

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Photo credit Tom Raftery


  1. says

    Ugh… this looks like a “we have a problem, lets find any solution to fix it” attitude. Why didn’t they speak with Shai and Project Better Place??? Or is that a stupid question?

  2. says

    Tom, thanks for your post. It was great to spend a week with you during your time at SAP headquarters. You’ve made some very strong statements that counter SAP’s eMobility employee research project, which is a global initiative where our employee are testing multiple EVs, such as the Nissan Leaf in our Palo Alto office ( and the Mahindra Reva in our Bangalore office.

    As you correctly stated, SAP’s carbon footprint for corporate cars has increased over the last three years. This increase is due to having more employees than we did three years ago. To help address the increase of emissions SAP launched its eMobility research project. The project has introduced EVs to our employees, which is quite the opposite of sabotaging our carbon emissions commitments.

    The EV car being testing by our employees in Germany is called Stromos which is manufactured by German E Cars. The name of the program is “Future Fleet” ( The Stromos car was selected because it was available in the German market at the time we were conducting the research. The German Government is helping to fund the project and of course they had an interest in using German partners and suppliers, but SAP reached out to multiple manufacturers inside and outside of Germany before deciding on German E Car. German E Car had the amount of cars we needed, at the time we needed them. This research project is part of a bigger German-wide initiative called, “Konjunktur-Paket 2” (KoPa2). Because of a strict deadline of September 30, 2011 for the KoPa2 project SAP was unable to wait for another car manufacturer to make their cars available.

    SAP’s Future Fleet research project is still in its infancy; it will run until the end of September 2011. Based on comments made by our employees testing the cars they are very satisfied. We are not turning our employees away from electric cars; in fact the opposite is happening. More and more employees want to participate in the program.

    And your comments about the car itself, well I have not ridden in another EV besides the Stromos. I had no expectations before riding in the Stromos. It was not the typical car I’m use too. As an SAP employee I have volunteered to test the cars, because I care about reducing my carbon footprint.

  3. says

    Hey Andrea,

    Thanks for dropping in and commenting – and backatcha re spending the week with you in Mannheim and Walldorf.

    In your comments you said that this project has introduced EV’s to SAP employees – this is true. However, my problem is with the particular EV chosen to introduce to the employees (in Germany – where most of the emissions problem arises) .

    As has often been said, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. The first impression German employees are getting of EV’s is not a positive one.

    Sustainability should not be about having to make compromises. And you don’t with a Leaf. It is a pleasantly well appointed car. The Stromos though is not. It is a very poorly appointed car which gives one a bad impression of EV’s (if you haven’t already been in a Leaf or similar).

    All of that mightn’t have been too bad if the sticker price of the Stromos was under €10,000 but it is over €40,000!

    No really.

    I understand SAP had time and political constraints here but I really think postponing the project until real EV’s were available would have been wiser.