For thousands of residents across Australia’s east coast, there’s a growing reason to ditch their petrol cars and pivot towards more sustainable transportation – a fleet of electric vehicles is being made exclusively available to them, to rent on demand, as part of their building’s amenities.
“We basically say it’s like a pool, but useful,” laughed Kyle Bolto, founder and CEO of Ohmie GO, the first sustainable shared e-Mobility company in Australia.
“You’re seeing these beautiful modern buildings coming to the market with luxury dining rooms, wonderful entertaining areas, great gyms and health clubs, and all these sorts of amenities. At Ohmie GO, we think that e-mobility as an amenity is a valuable proposition for both the building and the residents within it.”
First launched in 2018 and now operating in sites across Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, Ohmie GO’s fleet of cars (specifically Tesla Model 3s), e-bikes, and e-scooters to rent on-demand aim to “change the way we move around cities.”
Some of their property partners include Knight Frank, Aria Property Group, Sekisui House, Mosaic Property Group, and Bolton Clarke.
Kyle elaborated, “We’ve been in the technology space with IoT devices and smart homes for a little while now and it became very apparent to us that one of the big problems to be solved in the next four to five years is, how can we make the transition from petrol vehicles into electric vehicles? How does that meld into the way we plan and operate buildings?”
Bringing EVs to the general public
With a corporate background in technology and telecom, playing a key role in building the infrastructure for the internet and mobile networks in Australia with Vodafone and NBN, Kyle’s passionate about “looking at what’s coming in the future, how these technologies can help us, and making sure the infrastructure is in place.”
He left the corporate world in 2015 down the path of entrepreneurship, seeking avenues to make a difference.
“I got a great front row seat to observe how these industries grew with pretty rapid pace,” he noted. “It’s interesting to see what’s happening in the electric vehicle and mobility space now, as it has a lot of similarities to what happened in the early days of the internet.”
So far, Ohmie GO has raised around $1.5 million from a small number of supporters so far, with plans to raise another round soon.
The mission, as Kyle explains, is “to challenge car ownership as a concept, to create a future of shared e-mobility across smart cities and regional communities.” (The name, too, is a subtle nod to ohm, the unit of electrical resistance.)
“Look, the world of car share or bike share is not new,” Kyle admitted. “The big difference here is that we’re making these privately available to the tenants of a building. By bringing this inside, it creates a really wonderful dynamic that it’s a private amenity and interestingly, it creates a different social dynamic as well. People treat them really well because they know the next person coming in could be their neighbor or co-worker.”
Notably, it also marks the first time in the driver’s seat of an EV for many Ohmie GO users, who can now rent a Tesla for just $15 an hour.
“We have vehicles in retirement villages of all places, with users in their 70s and 80s! They’re able to book it through the Ohmie GO app, use the car for errands and do everything they need to do, and come right back. For us, it’s a really great endorsement that electric vehicles can be easy to use, even for people who might find the technology daunting or challenging,” Kyle grinned.
The EV market in Australia
Electric cars accounted for less than two per cent of sales in Australia in 2021 compared to the global average of nine per cent, per recent reports. Many sceptics point to the price barrier as well as the current infrastructure in place to charge, and maintain, an EV in the country.
According to Kyle, Ohmie GO’s success lies in its model, which takes care of the installation, cleaning, insurance, sustainability reporting, and maintenance of the electric vehicles for the residents.
“I think the infrastructure for EVs is there, like the Tesla charger network and companies like ChargeFox. I’ve personally driven from Sydney to Brisbane in a Tesla maybe five times, even Sydney to Melbourne in a Tesla around eight times, and I would argue it’s a lovelier experience than driving a conventional petrol car,” he said.
“That said, there’s certainly more infrastructure that needs to be made available, but it’s coming. And it’s already a lot better than it was just a couple of years ago when we first began.”
Best advice received
Through Kyle’s twenty years experience across technology and executive leadership, there’s one important lesson that’s stood out: “the devil’s in the details.”
“It’s relatively easy to get from zero to 90 per cent and a lot of people can do that. What’s very difficult in business to get to 100 per cent, whether that’s delivering a quality product or user experience,” he observed.
“Certainly early in my career, that attention to detail wasn’t where it should’ve been, and I learned some crucial lessons along the way. For me, value lies in the details, and the rest will come.”