By Bruce Nagy
In the past few months, Herbert Diess and Jim Farley, CEOs of Volkswagen, and Ford, respectively, have both made speeches to their employees praising Tesla. They have been gushing about an all-electric vehicle future.
This might seem strange coming from corporations that sell around nine million and four million vehicles each year, while Tesla sells a little more than one million. Big traditional automakers think they will catch up, and as such, are introducing their own iterations of electric cars, SUVs, trucks, and vans.
Jerry Dias, national president of Unifor, told me this summer that he used electric vehicles (EVs) to negotiate on behalf of Canadian autoworkers to convince General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler to keep plants open in Ontario to build EVs. “There will be governments not in sync with the global movement, and they will suffer,” Dias said. “In the future our people will be doing a lot more with EVs, solar, and wind.”
The electric vehicle revolution is big news for companies that offer delivery services. Companies such as UPS, DHL, FedEx, Purolator, and Canada Post’s fleets are all going electric. If you’re thinking about transitioning a fleet, even a smaller one, a good idea would be to call your local electricity utility.
At the federal level, the Government of Canada offers a point-of-sale incentive of $2,500 to $5,000 for consumers who buy or lease an electric vehicle.
Currently, only a handful of provinces offer provincial rebates. British Columbia operates its Go Electric program, which provides $3,000 for the purchase or lease of a new electric vehicle, including longer-range plug-in hybrids, and $1,500 for the purchase or lease of a shorter-range plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. In Ontario, there are two incentives offered by Plug’n Drive—the Used EV Incentive program, which provides $1,000 towards the purchase of a used fully electric car, and the Scrappage Incentive program, which offers $1,000 toward the purchase of a used fully electric or plug-in hybrid electric car when you scrap your old gas-powered car. For Quebecers, they are eligible for rebates of up to $8,000 on electric vehicles under $60,000. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador offers drivers an incentive from $2,500 for shorter range plug-in hybrids to $5,000 for all-electric and longer-range plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
For New Brunswickers, rebates are available for those who purchase or lease a new or used electric vehicle at a licensed automobile dealership in the province. The incentives available in New Brunswick are as followed:
- New battery electric vehicle (BEV): $5,000 \
- New long-range plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV): $5,000
- New PHEV: $2,500
- Used BEV: $2,500
- Used PHEV: $1,000
- Electric vehicle home charging stations: $750
The Government of P.E.I. is offering $5,000 to Islanders who purchase a new or used electric vehicle. The government will also offer $2,500 to those who buy a plug-in hybrid after April 1, 2021. Additionally, Islanders who utilize the PEI Universal EV Incentive will receive a free level two charger. However, they will still be responsible for all installation costs.
The last province to offer incentives is the Government of Nova Scotia. Nova Scotians may be eligible for rebates of $3,000 per new vehicle and $2,000 for used vehicles.
Let’s get down to business
To put into perspective the amount of savings that could be earned by making a switch to electric vehicles, a webinar was offered in June by BC Hydro. During the webinar, a fleet cost comparison was presented that looked at 30 Chevy Bolt SUVs and compared it to 30 Chevy Malibus, which were driven 250 km per day or 40,000 km per year. The case study found that it is still higher in costs, even with grants, for electric vehicles, but significant savings on fuel and maintenance can easily offset the initial costs. In total, this created net savings of $138,355 each year, which in eight years is about $1.1 million in savings.
Most of the savings in this example relate to fuel and maintenance, which exceed 90 per cent. However, in other fleet cases I’ve seen, they’ve been less dramatic. New York City’s 600 EVs save about 80 per cent on fuel and 65 per cent on maintenance. For heavier vehicles in colder climates, 65 per cent savings on fuel and maintenance seem like a good initial assumption.
All that being said, it’s time to start brushing up on available electric vehicles because your next vehicle should be electric, and the one after that almost certainly will be.
“Converting a gas transit to fully electric has a payback of just one to two years,” explains Nick Bettis, director of marketing and sales operations at Lightning eMotors. “You don’t usually spend for charging infrastructure. Most vans are charged overnight at the depot. If you want a fast charger for quick top-ups in the middle of the day, you might have to invest a few thousand dollars.”
Available to market
Now to the nitty gritty. Most of the larger automotive manufacturers have started to, if not already have, launch electric vehicles in a variety of body styles—think trucks, SUVs, cars, vans, etc. And yes, this means that there are electric work vehicles available that could be added to your fleet.
Some that are worth noting, and pictured throughout this article, are Ford’s E-transit Upfitter—Lightning eMotors of Colorado does the E-transit upfitting and drivetrain conversation for Ford Transit gas vans to fully electric. Additionally, Ford offers the F-150 Lightning fully electric truck. They say that they already have 160,000 reservations.
BrightDrop isn’t a trade van per say, however I want to include it in this list of vehicles as it is assembled in the GM Cami plant in Ingersoll, Ont. The EV400 and EV600 vans are being ordered by companies like FedEx and Verizon.
Electric Last Mile Systems (ELMS) wanted to gain a first mover advantage, negotiating for intellectual property, drivetrains, and batteries from major Chinese partners. Industry leaders think Chinese electric vehicle technology quality is five years ahead and could cause a Chinese invasion in the sector like the Japanese did years ago in the small car category. Some plumbing and HVAC fleets in the U.S. have adopted ELMS vans.
Rivian offers two electric vehicles to take note of—an SUV and a truck. Both the R1T (truck) and R1S (SUV) are available to order now from their Michigan-based plant. Deliveries for limited customers will start in January 2022. Both have ranges around 480 km. They are famously known for building 100,000 custom electric delivery vans for Amazon. Their price tag sits at around $84,000 for the truck and $90,000 for the SUV.
Tesla has delayed the production of its eclectic-looking truck twice now, but it looks highly likely it will go to production in 2022 at the new Texas plant. They have said to have received 600,000 reservations in the past year.
Lastly, Hummer will be offering electric versions of its pickup truck and SUV. The pickup is expected in early 2022, while the SUV is expected in early 2024. GM is also planning an Electric Chevy Silverado with 240 km of range for 2025.
There are many other electric trade vans, pickups, and delivery vans available or coming from other automotive manufacturers. It is worth your attention because it will help you save on fuel and maintenance costs and cut unhealthy pollution and greenhouse gases.