10 Business Reasons to Go Electric

The year 2035 may seem far away (that’s when the federal government has mandated that 100 per cent of light-duty vehicles sold in Canada must be zero-emissions vehicles) but the time to make the move toward an electric fleet is now. Fleet-suitable electric cars, trucks and vans are coming to market, provincial and federal governments are offering incentives to purchase electric vehicles and charging systems, and there is growing evidence that EVs are less expensive to own and operate.

1. Reduce your operating costs

“Adoption is supported by more models available, corporate fleet commitments, favorable economics and rising concerns about urban air quality.”

— BloombergNEF Electric Vehicle Outlook 2022
Your electric fleet will help you avoid high gas prices
Gas and diesel prices in June 2022

Gas and diesel prices are soaring, and although electric vehicles have a higher up-front cost than conventional combustion vehicles, the lower cost of electricity as a fuel will more than compensate over the long run.

In March, an analysis led by Clean Energy Canada, which compared ownership costs of electric car models and their gas counterparts, found that nearly every electric version was more affordable than the gas equivalent. In one example, assuming a consumer owned the car for eight years and rode 20,000 kilometres per year, the electric Hyundai Kona would rack up over $10,000 in savings compared to the gas-powered Kona. 

This comparison was based on pre-2022 gas prices; At a cost of $2 per litre, those savings increase to nearly $18,000 — and the principle applies just as well to fleet EVs. A 2021 study found that 60 percent of North American fleets would see financial boons if they switched to electric due to the long-term fuel savings

2. The number of viable fleet electric vehicle options is growing

The BrightDrop Zevo 600 is a game-changer for parcel delivery. Photo: BrightDrop

For Canadian companies looking to electrify their fleets, increased production of fully-electric cars, vans and trucks means that buyers have the most options to date. 

The GM BrightDrop Zevo 600, has a range of 400 km on a full charge. Ford’s E-transit van and the GreenPower EV Star Cargo have ranges of 200 to 240 kilometres respectively, while the Mercedes-Benz eSprinter van — which has been distributed throughout Europe since 2019 — will be coming to North America around 2023, and has a range of 150 kilometres.

3. Make use of government incentives to go electric

Incentives for purchasing zero-emission vehicles and installing charging infrastructure are available across Canada. However, as the market adoption of EVs increases, they may not be here forever — so now is the time to act. 

In the U.K., where electric passenger car sales increased by 186 per cent in 2020, incentives to purchase EVs have steadily declined until being stopped completely in June of 2022. That trend is not isolated to the U.K.: China has been cutting purchase support since 2018, and Quebec reduced its EV incentives by $1,000 for new vehicles in 2022. Currently, the federal government’s Incentives for Zero-Emission Vehicles offers rebates on a variety of vehicles including minivans and pickup trucks. New medium- and heavy-duty EV trucks are also eligible for federal rebates, along with provincial incentives in both B.C. and Quebec. Why wait? 

4. A more reliable fleet = more time on the road

Despite their higher up-front cost, electric vehicles require less annual maintenance and result in fewer breakdowns and repair-shop headaches than conventional cars and trucks.

A 2021 study from We Predict, an American and British-based predictive analytics company, found that EVs cost almost one-third less to service over the first three years of ownership than gas-powered vehicles. That’s because an EV motor has few moving parts and the vehicles require fewer maintenance check-ups like oil changes — so EVs spend less time in the shop, and more time on the road. 

5. Boost driver safety and retention

One of the lesser known upsides of fleet electrification is the benefit for drivers. EVs are quieter and enable one-pedal driving, since releasing the gas pedal engages regenerative braking that not only slows the vehicle but recharges the battery in the process. Fleet EV drivers report less fatigue compared to driving a conventional vehicle.

Electric vehicles are proven to lead to large air pollution benefits, and reduce one’s exposure to harmful pollutants such as diesel (which can cause respiratory conditions like asthma), fine particulate matter and carbon dioxide. 

All of this is healthier for drivers and, once they’ve driven an EV at work, they’re less likely to go back to the old way.

6. Be ready for future RFPs

As focus on combatting climate change grows, more pressure from regulators and investors is falling on businesses and corporations to reduce their carbon footprint. That tension may also continue downstream to subcontractors of various kinds — from delivery companies to technicians — to decarbonize. Operators without zero-emission fleets may soon find themselves losing contracts to those who have already made the leap.  

The federal government of Canada has already set a target to make all new light-duty cars and passenger trucks zero-emission by 2035, and both large companies like Loblaw and smaller, last-mile delivery organizations like Ovation Logistics have already implemented EVs.

7. Start your skills upgrade now

Electrification is coming, and fleet managers need to anticipate the transition from gas- or diesel-powered vehicles to electric. 

One U.S. study found that although fleet managers are expecting the adoption of electric vehicles, there are few organizations that are ready to make the transition and account for the costs of owning and operating an electric fleet. From charging stations to sustainability benefits, business leaders will need to be ahead of the curve on what electrification could mean for their operations and their customers. 

8. Be a brand differentiator

Taking steps towards implementing electric vehicles allows a business to concretely show how much it cares about the environment. Take Ikea Canada, for example: Ikea recently began using five-tonne electric trucks for last-mile deliveries in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

Ikea’s electric fleet not only helps curb emissions, achieving 20 per cent of its zero emission delivery target, but the trucks emblazoned with phrases like “100% Electric” are rolling billboards for Ikea’s sustainability goals and commitment to an electric future. Earlier this year, the company expanded its electric truck fleet.

Image shows a Videotron-brand electric van
Quebec telecommunications provider Videotron plans to add 100 new Ford E-Transit electric vans to its fleet in 2022. Photo: Videotron

9. Outpace future legislation

The politics of carbon-emitting vehicles are evolving and electrification could become a requirement for access to contracts or the right to operate in certain jurisdictions in the not-so-distant future. 

For example, Montreal has pledged to implement a low-emissions zone in its downtown core by 2030. The federal government already moved up its mandate by 5 years to 2035 (for all light-duty vehicle sales). In order to comply with changing regulations, organizations have to consider how they’ll conduct operations going forward.

10. Help fight climate change

We have already seen the impacts of a changing climate in Canada, from heat domes, wildfires, flooding, rising sea levels and melting glaciers. There will continue to be serious economic and humanitarian impacts as a result of climate change. 

The transportation sector is responsible for 27 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada — with cars, vans, and light-duty trucks responsible for nearly half of that total. As a society, it’s paramount for business leaders to show community leadership and take initiative to stop defaulting to fossil-fuel-driven vehicles and make the switch to electric. 

The business case for owning and operating electric cars, vans and trucks is only growing stronger, so take the next step: sign up for the EV Fleets course and learn more about the vehicles themselves.