For everyone interested in electric vehicles (EV), this is the year to get excited. While electric cars are old news, electric commercial vehicles – everything from SUVs and pick-up trucks to large transport trucks – are about to get a popularity boost. With improved technology and increasing affordability, any company that hasn’t yet invested in electrifying its fleet is already losing money.

According to Electric Autonomy Canada, an electric vehicle news platform, trendspotters, and industry experts see 2021 as a year of huge growth for commercial electric vehicles.

But why would businesses make the transition? Here are three reasons why: 

Reason 1 – Electric vehicles have a lower total cost of ownership than their counterparts

In December 2020, Geotab, an Ontario-based fleet tracking, and management firm released a case study evaluating how passenger EVs compared to regular vehicles available on the market today. Geotab compared 179,000 light-duty fleet vehicles (think cars, SUVs, and mini-vans used for commercial purposes) across 24 industries throughout North America. It’s important to note that the study did take vehicle usage and trip temperature conditions over 12 months into account.

What they found was this: nearly two-thirds of commercial fleets in North America would save money if businesses swapped their vehicles for an electric option. Tens of thousands of vehicles can be replaced by an equivalent EV model right now and that replacement would lead to significant cost savings.

To put a number to this discovery – if all the vehicles Geotab marked as a good fit for an EV replacement were actually switched, companies would save $560 million USD (and 1.4 billion liters of fuel) collectively over the vehicles’ lifetimes. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, this would lower CO2 emissions by 375,550 metric tons per year – saving about 2,000 railcars of coal from being burned. 

Reason 2 – Many (and soon, most) commercial electric vehicles perform just as well as their counterparts

Even with limited options in higher weight class categories, the study found that today’s battery-powered electric vehicle technology could replace half of North America’s existing fleets and still enable the same range without requiring day-time charging, meeting 98% of organizations’ needs.

Commercial electric vehicle sticker prices are starting to go down and new models are continuing to appear. Electric pickup and heavy-duty trucks are about to become the next big thing.

While The Race to Zero report by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) notes that only 570 zero-emission trucks and buses were sold in North America in 2019, the number of heavy-duty models available is expected to double by 2023. Offerings are already available for classes 4 through 8, and truck manufacturers are continuing to work on and expand their technology. 

Reason 3: Some big companies are already on board

Early adopters of commercial EV technology are already reaping its benefits. Mississauga’s Pride Group Enterprises, which has committed to purchasing 6,000 electric last-mile delivery vans, discussed the upside of EVs in a recent interview:
⦁ Minimal maintenance, reduced downtime, and no oil changes
⦁ Improved safety and autonomous capabilities that can lower insurance costs and reduce driver shortages
⦁ Low-cost overnight charging

Or look at Ontario Power Generation (OPG), which has started using electric vehicles as part of its contribution to EV100, a 31-company initiative that has committed to cutting millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year by using EVs. OPG aims to transition its entire 400-vehicle fleet to electric by 2030. To do this, the company is in the process of installing charging stations at all of its sites.

It’s worth noting that HP and Ikea are also part of the EV100 initiative. 

The takeaway:

While heavy-duty truck technology is still developing, many commercial companies can easily make the switch from fuel to electric this year. And the benefits outweigh the risks – electric vehicles reduce carbon emissions, save money throughout their lifetimes, and, in many cases, are just as tough as their counterparts in terms of range and payload.