November 28, 2023

Driving Environmental Initiatives: The Role of Electric Vehicle Fleets in Corporate Sustainability

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8 Min. Read

In the face of escalating climate change and the imperative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the role of electric vehicle (EV) fleets emerges as a beacon of sustainability in the United States.

Road transportation remains one of the main contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., but fleet managers can make a difference by committing to electric vehicle fleets. Committing to EV fleets not only aligns with broader sustainability goals but also positions businesses as proactive contributors to a cleaner, more resilient future.

In this article, we explore the pivotal role that EV fleets play in corporate sustainability programs, emphasizing their potential to revolutionize the transportation sector.

The Global Push Toward Sustainability

In the face of escalating climate change, urgent global action is critical. Climate change is well underway, but it’s not too late to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis.The heavy reliance on gasoline in the U.S. significantly contributes to CO2 emissions, impacting economic stability.

Businesses must go beyond standard environmental, social, and governance (ESG) programs, implementing impactful strategies aligned with consumer preferences for environmental commitment and market success.

The Need to Act

The U.S. economy uses 8.9 million barrels of gasoline per day, making it vulnerable to fluctuating energy prices. Relying on gasoline also contributes to over 4,970 million metric tons of energy-related CO2 emissions a year, with transportation representing close to a third of this number.

For the U.S., getting climate change under control should be a priority. Between January and August 2023, the country experienced 23 weather-related events ranging from wildfires to floods and hurricanes. Experts agree that the climate crisis will only worsen and take a more severe economic and human toll as it progresses, but taking climate action can help.

Achieving a net-zero economy by 2030 will significantly work toward lessening the impact of the climate crisis, but the transportation sector must reduce emissions by 3% a year until 2030 to achieve this goal. With a majority of transportation emissions stemming from business transportation, urgent and strategic measures within corporate fleets are crucial for attaining this ambitious target.

How Businesses Can Make a Difference

Many corporations are already making a difference by taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint, use less water, or recycle waste.

However, there is a need for a systemic shift that goes beyond ESG programs, where businesses prioritize strategies with tangible and measurable benefits for the environment and community. Consumers are on board with strategies that focus on positive impact, and businesses that make strong commitments to the environment and community tend to outperform the market.

How Do Electric Vehicles Help Corporate Sustainability?

In this landscape, the adoption of electric vehicle fleets emerges as a pivotal strategy for corporations aiming to significantly reduce their carbon emissions.

By transitioning from traditional fuel-powered vehicles to EV fleets, businesses not only contribute to cleaner air and reduced greenhouse gas emissions but also position themselves as leaders in sustainable practices.

This transformative step aligns with consumer preferences for positive impact strategies, enhancing brand reputation and fostering long-term success in the market.

Comparing Environmental Footprints

The average passenger car emits 8,887 grams of CO2 per gallon of fuel, which is roughly the equivalent of 19 pounds per gallon.

Even though there is an environmental impact linked to manufacturing EVs and producing electricity to power them, eliminating tailpipe emissions can offset this impact quickly. Traditional vehicles emit harmful pollutants directly into the atmosphere, negatively affecting air quality and contributing to the greenhouse gas effect.

In stark contrast, EVs, once manufactured, operate with zero tailpipe emissions, mitigating the ongoing harm caused by traditional vehicles and offering a more sustainable option for the future of transportation.

Overview of Emissions

Around a quarter of the energy produced in the U.S. comes from renewable sources, while 39% comes from natural gas, a much cleaner source of energy compared to other fossil fuels.

On average, EVs use 26 kWh per 100 miles, which translates into 0.8 lbs. of CO2 indirectly emitted per mile through the electricity production infrastructure. This number will keep decreasing in the future as more electricity comes from clean sources such as solar power and wind energy.

Recent efforts such as emission control and reformulated gasoline are mitigating the environmental impact of gas-powered cars, but these vehicles still create 19 lbs. of CO2 per gallon.

Passenger cars have an average fuel efficiency of 24 MPG, and driving 100 miles results in 76 lbs. of CO2 being emitted. For delivery trucks with an average fuel efficiency of 6.5 MPG, a 100-mile route will cause over 120 lbs. in CO2 emissions.

EV Fleets and ESG Goals

If your business operates a fleet, your fleet vehicles are likely one of the top sources of emissions for your organization.

Electric vehicle fleets can immediately reduce emissions to less than 1% of their previous level with gas-powered vehicles. It’s a significant step toward creating a net-zero model, and you can measure the impact of this change by tracking the miles driven.

What Are the Tangible Sustainability Benefits for Corporations?

There are multiple benefits to adopting electric vehicle fleets. In the context of corporate sustainability, adopting electric vehicle fleets offers a range of strategic benefits and practical advantages, including cost savings, operational efficiency, brand improvement, and alignment with core values.

From financial considerations to environmentally responsible choices, embracing EV fleets signifies a comprehensive shift in corporate practices towards sustainability.

Cost Savings

Over the lifespan of each EV, you can expect to save $6,000 to $10,000 between fuel, repairs, and maintenance. The savings can be significantly higher for fleet vehicles that see more use than the average passenger car. You can also benefit from a federal tax break of up to $7,500 for the purchase of some EV models.

Efficiency

EVs are less likely to break down and disrupt your fleet routes. These vehicles are also packed with technology, facilitating data collection and integration with modern fleet management systems that support route optimization and hold drivers accountable through remote monitoring.

Brand Reputation

Fleet vehicles are a point of contact between your brand and the community. Clean and quiet EVs will enhance your brand image. With 78% of consumers saying that a sustainable lifestyle is important to them, EV fleets can be a powerful differentiator.

Core Values

Besides attracting eco-conscious and tech-forward customers, electric vehicle fleets can help you connect with the 86% of employees who would rather work for businesses that care about the environment. Electrification can also open the door for new partnerships with other green leaders, such as investors, suppliers, and B2B customers who share your values.

What Challenges Do Corporations Face When Transitioning to EVs?

As corporations shift towards electric vehicles, several challenges arise in this transformative journey. By anticipating common challenges and utilizing strategic insights, fleet managers can proactively plan a successful transition for their company.

From managing upfront costs associated with new vehicle purchases and charging infrastructure to addressing range anxiety through optimized routes and partnerships, businesses can proactively navigate the complexities of EV adoption. Engaging with various stakeholders, including utility providers, local government, and experienced electrical contractors, is essential for a smooth and effective transition to a sustainable fleet.

Upfront Costs

EV fleets come with an upfront cost linked to purchasing new vehicles and investing in the charging infrastructure.

Performing a cost-benefit analysis will help you determine the ROI of the project, and you can also explore incentives to lower the upfront cost. With many federal, state, municipal, and even utility incentives, there are many opportunities to save money by making the sustainable choice and switching to an electric fleet.

Range Anxiety

Fleet drivers who are unfamiliar with electric vehicles may experience range anxiety as they must be more aware of their mileage and charging options while on their routes.

Range anxiety can be easily addressed by optimizing your routes and integrating charging into route planning. Solutions such as at-home charging for your fleet drivers and partnerships with public and private entities that own chargers can expand your range and service area.

Partnerships

Planning fleet electrification by yourself can be challenging, especially with permitting requirements, determing the best charging options, and determining a management system to monitor your EV fleet activity.

By connecting with partners who can share resources and expertise with you, including utility providers, your local government, other businesses, and experienced electrical contractors, you can ensure your transition to electric vehicles is successful and seamless—saving you time, money, and stress.

The Future of EV Fleets in Corporate Sustainability

Investing in an electric vehicle fleet is a strategic move toward future-proofing businesses.

With incredible innovations, charging advancements, and the transformative landscape of autonomous electric fleets, EV fleets contribute to long-term sustainability goals and will help businesses save money, improve their operation, and stay ahead of their competition.

Innovations

The U.S. could gain as many as 800,000 new charging ports by 2030, thanks to provisions created by the Inflation Reduction Act. Leveraging public charging for your EV fleet could become a viable solution in the near future.

Bidirectional charging could also create additional value for your fleet, transforming your EVs into a mobile source of energy that can double as a backup for your business or community. Net metering programs could also turn bidirectional charging into a source of revenue as you discharge unused energy into the grid.

Autonomous Electric Fleets

Experts believe that autonomous vehicles could represent a $300 to $400 billion industry by 2035. Having an existing charging infrastructure could give you an edge for early adoption.

EV Fleets and Long-Term Sustainability Goals

Adopting EVs is a crucial step toward reducing your emissions, but you can go further by investing in solar arrays to charge your EVs or partnering with your energy provider to exclusively charge your EVs with clean energy.

Start Planning Your Fleet Electrification

Switching to an EV fleet can bring your CO2 emissions to less than 1% of their previous levels, making EV fleets one of the most effective ESG projects for creating direct value for your business and community.

Plan ahead by assessing costs, evaluating benefits, and anticipating potential challenges, but you don’t have to navigate the transition to electric vehicles alone. With over 269,000 EV charger installations to-date and the largest network of certified EV charger installers across North America, Qmerit makes it easy.

There’s a reason why no one is more trusted than Qmerit, and with a dedicated team to support your company through every phase of switching to electric vehicles, we’ll help ensure your business operations can seamlessly continue as you strive toward your corporate sustainability goals by electrifying your fleet.

Get started by learning more about planning your fleet electrification and contact Qmerit today!

Author: Tom Bowen

Tom Bowen

President, Qmerit Solutions and Commercial Electrification