Benzina Zero is expanding so rapidly that it has outgrown its previous quarters. I met with Ben Silver — self named “chief plugger inner” — at Benzina Zero’s new warehouse and head office in Virginia, north of Brisbane. We spoke of growth and vision. His phone rang repeatedly. Life seems much busier now for this family man and entrepreneur. He tells me that sales in Australia have tripled in the past 12 months. Plans are well advanced to export to Asia and Europe, with an office just opened in Italy.
In 2022, Benzina Zero won the Motor Trades Association of Queensland (MTAQ) Innovation Award. It has been selected as a finalist for 2023. BZ has already been awarded Best Emerging Micro-Mobility Company for 2023 by The Business Concept.
The partnership with Domino’s Pizza is progressing. Initially, Ben supplied Domino’s with the Benzina Zero Duo — as reported here. Ben describes the Duo as a “hyper-utility” electric scooter. “Everything has to have more than one use.” Now, Benzina Zero (BZ) is supplying the pizza delivery service with ebikes. The ebikes are imported and distributed by BZ. BZ won the contract because it was the best fit to meet the supply requirements for last-mile deliveries with scooters and bikes.
Unlike other food delivery services, many Domino’s franchisees supply the vehicle used for delivery. Dense, inner-city environments are perfect for hot pizza delivery by ebike or e-moped. Every location is unique, and BZ is well placed to supply a best fit logistics solution. Delivery drivers don’t have to use mum’s car! And even better, some franchises have solar on the roof — free power! The Benzina Zero Duo can be charged in situ, or the battery can be easily detached for charging in store or for a quick swap.
Benzina Zero has also formed a partnership with first mover Zoomo in Sydney, New South Wales. Zoomo supplies ebikes to the public via subscriptions and supplies light electric vehicles to Door Dash food delivery riders. The BZ warehouse at Virginia had stacks and stacks of boxes of e-mopeds for Zoomo. Zoomo is now expanding into electric mopeds and plans to rent out the Duo and the Duo Plus. These, of course, will be supplied by BZ.
Ben tells me that he is being approached by fleet managers looking for a cost effective, environmentally friendly solution. He is able to show them that replacing petrol vehicles with EVs reduces energy costs by up to 90%. Running a petrol scooter costs approximately AU$10 per 100 km. In stark contrast, a BZ moped can be powered by a dollar’s worth of electricity for the same 100 km. Carbon dioxide production is reduced by 80% using the grid, or even more if you can power up from your own solar.
This video gives a detailed breakdown of cost savings. In summary, a delivery rider could save up to AU$3,600 per year in fuel and servicing. If the petrol model costs $3000 and the electric moped is $5000, that’s a return on investment in less than 12 months. For my US readers, please be aware that petrol in Australia is over AU$2 per litre, and electricity is about 28 cents per kWh. There are credible forecasts predicting petrol in Australia will rise in cost to $2.70 per litre by Christmas.
Assuming the delivery vehicle is traveling 500 km per week or 25,000 km per year, a petrol moped using 4 L of petrol per 100 km will cost $1,872 annually. A Benzina Duo travelling the same distance would use $187 worth of electricity. Not only will this save money ($1,685), but because the moped can be charged at the shop, an EV saves time. Time is money.
Let’s talk servicing. A petrol moped requires servicing about every 2,500 km. Our petrol vehicle would need 10 of these per year at an annual cost of $2500. The duo would require 6 services over the same distance, costing $150 (there is less to service). That’s an annual cost of $900. (Tyres and brakes would be approximately the same on both vehicles.)
In summary, it would cost $4,372 to run a petrol moped compared with $1,087 for the electric Duo. Less servicing means more on-road time for the Duo. Remember, time is money. Savings will multiply out over time, and as the fleet is transitioned, add considerably to a business’s bottom line. Perhaps it will even mean cheaper pizzas? One can hope.
New to the Benzina Zero range are the V-10 and V-50 personal mobility devices (stand-up scooters), which will allow people to come into the BZ brand at a lower entry price point. They can be ridden without a licence or registration.
Australian states have a range of rules and regulations around electric scooters and mopeds. People planning to purchase a scooter need to check the local requirements. Although the Queensland government gives generous rebates for the purchase of electric cars, there is no support currently for e-mopeds. In direct contrast, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has expanded its grant and loan Sustainable Housing Scheme to include electric mopeds and motorcycles, not just cars.
Also new to the BZ lineup is the euro design inspired Vasto. This moped can travel up to 50 km/h and be driven with a car licence in Queensland, but requires a motorcycle licence in other states. The Vasto features a European-style round headlight. It is named for the town in Italy where the EU headquarters for BZ is located.
Ben expects to have 30 dealerships onboard by the end of the year. Currently, the majority of them are in Queensland, due to favourable weather, demographics, and government policies. Being able to ride a moped on a car licence means there are less barriers to entry.
As well as benefitting the environment, and saving on costs, BZ’s products are helping to unclog our cities: “We are expanding our range of micro-mobility options to assist more people to shift to a better way to move. Electrification is much more than swapping your ICE car for an electric one. Micro-mobility is the only solution to not only reduce our carbon output but the ‘other’ thing choking our cities, congestion.” Makes you wonder why more delivery fleets aren’t switching to electric mopeds!
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