The future of EVs is ‘usership not ownership’

25 Jan 2024

DCEV co-founder and CEO Adrian Slattery. Image: DCEV

DCEV CEO and co-founder Adrian Slattery discusses the benefits of letting people ‘try before you buy’ EVs, insights on how the sector will evolve and tips for starting a new business.

Adrian Slattery is focused on all things renewable, leading a company that provides electric vehicles (EVs), charging points and solar power.

He decided to shift into the transport sector when “at a crossroads” in his job in 2006, co-founding Dreamcars with his friend Paul Clifford to give people a “more personal experience” when buying a car.

The pair took over a dealership in 2009 and renamed it DC Motor Co – which brought them into the luxury and performance sector – before heading to Dubai in 2013 to adapt to Ireland’s slowing market at the time.

A man in a white shirt standing with a white car in the background. He is Paul Clifford of DCEV.

DCEV co-founder Paul Clifford.

The two entrepreneurs decided to adapt again in 2018, setting up DCEV in response to a lot of requests from clients to supply Tesla cars. Since then, the company has rapidly expanded its services.

“Through our ‘first-to-market’ approach, companies came to us to source hard-to-get EV’s for employees,” Slattery said. “That then lead onto looking at their fleets and transitioning anything from 10 to 200+ cars [and] vans to EVs. This in turn lead us on to establishing strategic partnerships in solar power, commercial, home charging and renewable energy for the private and commercial sectors.”

Slattery said there is “massive pressure” on companies to become sustainable and reduce their carbon output, which has allowed his business to help multinational companies transition to EV fleets.

“We have installed 100s of home chargers, supplied commercial solar and converted a high proportion of our clients to renewable energy,” Slattery said. “DCEV have become a full-circle solution. From your EV to EV charger, to solar to renewable energy.”

The shift to subscription

Last year saw a significant uptake in the number of EVs in Ireland, as 19pc of all new cars licensed between January and September in 2023 were electric. There was also a decline in the total number of cars licensed in Ireland during the same period, according to CSO figures.

The boost was hailed by some – such as ePower CEO John O’Keeffe – as “hugely positive”. But Slattery believes a significant challenge for the EV sector is “price volatility”, with €50,000 being “cheap these days for [a] luxury EV”.

He believes the answer to this is through subscription services, to let users “try before you buy”. DCEV is trying to stand out in Ireland’s EV market by offering EV subscription options, letting potential buyers use an EV and gain access to EV charging, maintenance, servicing and insurance perks for a monthly fee.

“We are two years into the building process and have just launched our fully EV subscription platform,” Slattery said. “With models like Netflix and AirBnB, people’s needs have shifted from ownership to usership. We have been overwhelmed with the interest and there is a real appetite for change in the marketplace.”

Slattery said that users want flexibility and that his company offers a minimum 30-day subscription, compared to lease options that can be years long.

“I think the future is usership not ownership,” Slattery said. “People won’t own cars. They will use them according to their needs. Also, sustainable fuels, hydrogen and bio fuels will become the mobility power source of the future.”

“The Irish Government has big targets of 950,000 EV’s on the road by 2030 so we want to be part of the solution. Subscription smashes down the barrier to entry into the EV market.”

Stick to your vision

Slattery said DCEV aims to bring a “community feel” to its EV subscription platform and that the company has global ambitions. It has a DCEV Educate service where it speaks to businesses to answer any questions about EVs.

“The other education outlet we use is our social media channels such as YouTube, allowing us to show what we’re all about,” Slattery said. “We have people from different industries coming in to tell us their stories too.”

DCEV appears to be constantly adapting, as Slattery said there are “big plans” to expand its digital platform and brand. His key piece of advice for those starting a new business is “don’t think about it – just do”.

“The more you procrastinate, the less chance of starting,” Slattery said. “What’s the worst that can happen? You are not your business. Do not let it define you.”

Slattery’s business currently has five full-time staff and up to 20 outsourced members. His decades of experience in running a business taught him that it’s important to have a vision and stick to it.

“Make your employees and associates fully in on it so they know exactly where you’re all heading,” Slattery said. “Keep them involved (good and bad) and tell them how important they are to the company. We have a diverse multicultural team allowing global perspectives and really exciting views.”

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic