VANCOUVER — B.C. is Canada’s undisputed electric car leader, where one in every five vehicles sold is now electric. There’s just one problem: most transport emissions in the province come from commercial vehicles like big rigs and delivery vans.
In order to better understand both the opportunities and challenges unique to the commercial transport sector, Clean Energy Canada convened industry stakeholders and experts to advise on accelerating the adoption of commercial EVs throughout B.C.’s Lower Mainland, the results of which inform a new report, On the Road to Net Zero: How B.C. can pave the way for zero-emission commercial vehicles across Canada.
B.C. has a long history of pioneering climate policies that are eventually adopted nationally or by other provinces, and with its pre-existing EV advantage, population density, abundant clean electricity, and political environment (B.C. has its own zero-emission target for commercial trucks), the Lower Mainland is a natural building point for a bigger wave of adoption to come.
As for how we get there, the participants convened this spring wished to see government support programs streamlined, better coordination with electric utilities, more pilots to act as case studies, and better data collection.
A successful strategy would also start with the trips most easily electrified—such as last-mile deliveries, short-haul trucking, garbage services, and drayage—where the required vehicle types are more available and cost-competitive.
For a deeper dive, On the Road to Net Zero outlines a number of ways that governments, utilities, and the private sector can pave a smoother road ahead for commercial EVs across the Lower Mainland—and ultimately across Canada.
- Transportation is responsible for 42% of all climate pollution in B.C., more than any other sector. The biggest share comes from commercial transport, which is responsible for a quarter of all climate pollution in the province.
- As we’ve seen with passenger EVs—which typically save drivers $10,000 to $20,000 over a typical ownership period—lower fuel and maintenance costs can add up to big savings for businesses. In California, the price of charging a small fleet of step vans is about a third of the price of fuelling similar vans with diesel.
- Air pollution was the cause of over 15,000 premature deaths in 2016, according to Health Canada estimates, with an economic bill of around $120 billion.
- Nearly 30% of Canadians live within 250 metres of a major roadway, and the number can be higher for urban centres like Metro Vancouver.
- Diesel trucks and buses emit a disproportionate amount of air pollution, and electrifying just 10 last-mile delivery trucks has the same benefit as 56 households buying an electric car.
- Collectively, commercial fleet operators—including DHL, FedEx, PepsiCo/Frito-Lay, and Comcast—have pre-ordered more than 100,000 zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in the U.S.
- In Canada, Purolator aims to purchase 3,500 electric last-mile delivery vans across 60 terminals in B.C., Ontario and Quebec.