In the last 12 months, electric vehicle designer and manufacturer, ElectraMeccanica, produced and delivered its initial product to consumers and fleet buyers. Additionally, ElectraMeccanica extended its China-based manufacturing operations; broke ground for a new U.S. plant; increased its trade show test-drive and pop-up presence; and launched a service repair network pilot with Bosch.
And if that wasn’t enough, last October, the Vancouver, British Columbia–based company cut over the first of a multi-wave RISE with SAP installation that uses SAP S/4HANA and AWS Cloud. This installation enables ElectraMeccanica to connect and increasingly integrate and automate its global business systems and operations from supplier to buyer.
“We started out with a search. We knew we were going to scale as a company. We knew we had to have the right ERP [and] MRP systems in place to handle the scaling. We’ve started out global, as [a] company. We did an extensive review. The one that went to the top was SAP S/4HANA in the cloud. This would really serve our needs,” said Kevin Pavlov, ElectraMeccanica CEO.
Aggressive Growth and Opportunities in EV
“We’ve got an aggressive growth path and we needed to make sure we had the right technology foundation,” added Bal Bhullar, CFO. “The reason we chose SAP was because we wanted an off-the-shelf and minimal customization, to support our current growth and future needs. Based on all the metrics we put together, [working] with our consulting partner PWC, SAP overall was the winner for what it could do for our business.”
Now that it has moved beyond the development stage to full-fledged operations, ElectraMeccanica plans to build out its portfolio from the initial well-reviewed Solo, a one-seat, three-wheel, all-electric model designed for individual commutes and service fleet use. The company will add the Solo 02 convertible and specialty versions.
Additional manufacturing capacity means not only maintaining and improving on a largely Asian region supply chain, but also creating a supply chain for the new U.S. plant. This means new logistics suppliers with new systems—many with existing SAP installations—located across the Americas. Publicly traded ElectraMeccanica’s expansion includes increasing production capacity from 20,000 to 40,000 vehicles annually.
Lack of Legacy Systems
Bhullar underscored the value evident in RISE with SAP and SAP S/4HANA for accounting, finance, controls, audit trails, and in the company’s Salesforce and DealerTrack systems integration, adding that—to ElectraMeccanica’s advantage—few “true legacy systems” and traditional software infrastructures exist.
“That made it a lot easier [overall] and easier to adjust in transferring the data over, especially [on] the accounting and finance side, and in the other departments,” she said.
Pavlov, meanwhile, emphasized the importance of SAP S/4HANA in ElectraMeccanica’s parts and inventory management, quality systems, manufacturing, and production—down to data routing, access, and availability at specific times.
These systems, and the SAP S/4HANA–enabled data and application integration, are all essential to the unique “birth certificate” shipped with each Solo. Pavlov said that ElectraMeccanica tracks and records “every single part, every single lot, exactly who we brought it from” in the certificate for each vehicle. The certificate also records software updates, ownership changes, maintenance, and more.
EV Life Cycle View
“SAP provides all that data. We know and can manage the data for the entire life cycle of the vehicle, from birth to retirement, and possibly beyond for battery reuse,” Pavlov explained.
Yet, as energized as leadership initially was with the SAP ERP and MRP foundation, the implementation team has experienced its fair share of challenges. API and data integration issues surfaced, including across the company’s hand-held applications, web-based consumer portal, and fleet sales. Cash transaction management, particularly the kind involving multiple currencies, exchange rates, and taxes, didn’t always flow smoothly.
Because of the project’s scale and scope, defining and redefining processes and procedures, planning, and implementation have required a significant investment of time, talent, and people resources to plan, configure, and deploy.
“We had to have a lot of our folks really involved,” Pavlov said, from leadership to everyday teams and staff. “Our people would have to let go of their current daily work, only to go to meetings to describe their daily work. It was very taxing and difficult, but we told everyone how important it was.”
Early RISE with SAP Returns
Bhullar believes that employees are already beginning to recognize the important early results and foresee the important effects of RISE with SAP and SAP S/4HANA.
“Individuals are still learning,” she said. “Once they’ve got it under their belt, they see [the] fruits of why ERP systems like SAP are so superior. We see the details we were looking for, the reporting, information on supply chain, the bill of materials costs—all the data we’ll be able to retrieve” and analyze.
Just a year into the SAP relationship and months into implementation, Pavlov readily shares visions of business and operations management improvements. These include inventory management for plants; reports and analytics to support real-time order processing; efficient, clean, and vetted financial reporting; cost controls; and purchase tracking.
“It’s quite an advantage for us,” he concluded.