Electric vehicle (EV) aficionados can take heart from the latest Global EV Outlook that reported brisk sales worldwide into 2022; two million EVs sold in the first quarter of this year for a 75% increase compared to 2021. Demand for more eco-friendly mobility options is steadily rising despite supply chain disruptions, as passionate consumers who care about the planet intersect with growing government regulations.

In this country, the U.S. Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) is expected to fund significant spend on electric vehicle charging stations. Manufacturers worldwide, especially startups, are full speed ahead, bolstered by recent investments totaling US$72 billion in the United States and $50 billion in Asia according to IDC.

EVs Shake Up Supply Chain Status Quo

EVs are much more than a sustainable fuel alternative. They’re steering the entire automotive ecosystem towards an innovative, technology-driven business model. EV startups are jumping on advanced technologies that circumvent traditional models to reinvent internal and external supply chains. One example is ElectraMeccanica Vehicles Corp., a North American EV manufacturer that’s digitalizing operations from finance through services to drive the company’s aggressive growth plans. You may have heard about the company’s flagship vehicle, the single-seat EV called the SOLO. Designed for a single occupant, it offers a unique driving experience for the environmentally conscious consumer. I caught up with Jim Gwynn, director of Information Systems at ElectraMeccanica, when he spoke at the SAP Sapphire Orlando event about how this three-wheeled vehicle will revolutionize the urban driving experience including commuting, delivery, and shared mobility.

"The unique two-door, single-passenger design offers drivers agility and safety, as they can enter and exit from either door, making it ideal for activities like pizza deliveries, security, and parking enforcement," said Gwynn. "To meet current strong demand for our SOLO vehicles, and manage our rapid growth for years to come, we needed an enterprise-class ERP system that connects information company-wide for a digital-first experience that’s highly scalable, functional, and regulatory compliant."

Digital Unites Global Operations to Meet Market Demand

No one is more thrilled with ElectraMeccanica’s transformation from startup to fully operational OEM than the company’s retail and fleet customers now taking EV deliveries. Digitalization has been central to this important transition. Headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, with international production, assembly, and testing facilities, ElectraMeccanica selected RISE with SAP to build its digital-first foundation. The vision is to connect everything from product design, supply chain planning, and production, to sales and after-market care.

"We needed an ERP system that would grow with our business," said Gwynn. "We selected SAP because it’s a complete solution that will allow customers to reserve and procure vehicles online and help us directly connect market demand with strategic planning, bringing that into the ERP system with SAP S/4HANA and SAP Commerce Cloud. The vehicle management system means we will have full traceability of our EVs and the components inside throughout the product life cycle. Equally important, SAP solutions have broad acceptance in the automotive OEM market."

Business Results from Intelligent Data Sharing

ElectraMeccanica is building an assembly and engineering center in the U.S., and Gwynn expected further cloud-based digitalization like warehouse management that will include vehicle inspection facilities at the new plant and beyond. As far as he’s concerned, there’s no time to lose.

"Speed is critical in bringing these innovations across our business so that we can anticipate and respond to what our customers want," said Gwynn. "Having digital representation for all our core business processes allows us to share valuable data between sales and operations, making us more informed for stronger decision-making and business resilience."

Digital-first operations have already generated business results. Automating mundane processes has eliminated repetitive work, allowing employees to spend more time on value-add activities such as order intake and vehicle allocation. With a simplified employee experience, people can collaborate more easily across the company’s expanding geographical locations for increased productivity.

As EVs disrupt the entire automotive industry, new market entrants like ElectraMeccanica are front and center, creating a historic opportunity to reinvent mobility. Digitalization helps connect information between ecosystem participants – government regulators, manufacturers, consumers, and others – to deliver on the promise of a more sustainable world. SOLO is an apt name for ElectraMeccanica’s innovative EV, but the truth is, we’re all in this together.

Author - Susan Galer - SAP