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How electric commercial vehicles contribute to a sustainable future

From reduced greenhouse gas emissions to cutting-edge battery technology, EVs power a variety of sustainability improvements
Electric vehicle charging stations in a parking lot with commercial vans charging up for the day.

In 2019, Amazon co-founded The Climate Pledge and committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. One key part of the plan: Electrifying its entire delivery fleet. The tech giant has partnered with Rivian to put 100,000 electric delivery vans on the road by 2030, and so far 13,500 have delivered over 580 million packages in the United States.

Why has Amazon committed another $1 billion to advance this effort? Because electric commercial vehicles are an investment in both the company and the planet. Not only do these cars, vans, and trucks save their owners money, but they also encourage an economy that helps keep our air clean. 

And EV delivery vehicles aren't just improving today's sustainability. They're also shaping a more sustainable tomorrow.

How electric commercial vehicles power sustainability today

Reduced emissions

Environmental sustainability begins with reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Today, road freight accounts for 9% of global GHG. The 27 million heavy-duty trucks already on the road produced 1.2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2020. That accounts for 41% of road freight’s total emissions, but medium-duty trucks and light commercial vehicles aren’t much better. Together, those produced another 1.2 billion metric tons. In Canada, that made the transport sector the second biggest GHG emitter in the country.

Now the good news: EVs produce zero tailpipe emissions. Switching from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to EV delivery trucks massively reduces the amount of greenhouse gases trapped in the atmosphere. That effect becomes even more pronounced if the electricity used to charge them comes from low-pollution sources such as wind or solar.

Reducing GHG emissions also has the added bonus of helping a business meet its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals. When 67% of the world’s population thinks climate change is a “serious issue,” reaching those standards is a clear way to show customers your business is doing its part. And that matters to today's informed consumers.

Reduced maintenance and waste

Everybody's faced a sky-high auto repair bill at some point in their lives. Things break, and a lot of those things head straight for landfills. Operating a fleet of ICEs exponentially increases those headaches. 

On the other hand, one study found that maintaining an EV transit bus cost 40% less than an ICE of the same size, for several reasons. For one, EVs use regenerative braking, which can significantly prolong brake lifespan. For another, they don’t use engine oil, power steering fluid, or differential fluid, so those don’t need replacing (or indeed, producing). According to Tesla, they’ll also never need to have their transmission fluid or battery coolant replaced. Finally, there are far fewer moving parts at risk of breaking. Per the US Department of Energy, that means EV batteries, motors, and electronics require “little to no regular maintenance.” 

You don’t even need to worry about your van’s battery losing capacity over time. The lithium-ion batteries used in EV delivery vans, cars, and trucks last an average 12-15 years, losing just 1.3% of their capacity each year. That makes them last quite a bit longer than the average car engine (10 years). Even when they do finally fail, they can be recycled into even more batteries.

The bottom line? Based on maintenance alone, EVs are more sustainable than gas cars from a cost perspective and an environmental perspective.

How electric commercial vehicles power future sustainability

Growing EV infrastructure

It's the old chicken/egg conundrum. Customers' main concern about switching to EV is range anxiety. The best way to fix that is by building out more public charging stations. But there's no reason to do that if there aren't more EVs out on the roads.

More EV fleets operating in the wild addresses that problem at scale, much more than individual drivers currently can. 

Every fleet operator that trades in their gas trucks for electric commercial vehicles creates a sizable influx of charging demand. Savvy entrepreneurs quickly establish charging stations to meet that demand. And as the number of charging stations goes up, the global range anxiety quotient goes down. That means more and more EVs on the road in a snowball of sustainability.

Vehicle-to-grid technology

EVs may soon be able to do even more for the environment than cut down on emissions. Right now, electric vehicles receive alternate current (AC) from the grid and convert it into direct current (DC) to charge their batteries. If they stay plugged in after charging, they just sit idle. But thanks to an emerging technology called bidirectional conversion, EVs will be able to turn DC back into AC and return it to the grid. 

That allows them to act like batteries, storing excess energy when renewables like solar are at their peak production. California’s recent struggles with the “duck curve” have shown just how important this can be. On the sunniest spring days, gigawatts of solar energy have to be thrown away because supply has fully outstripped demand, and there aren’t enough batteries to store it all.

With vehicle-to-grid technology, every EV at a charging station can act as a battery. Then, when night falls and demand starts to edge out supply, these EVs can give their charge back to the grid, further reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

Take a deep dive into the future of sustainable transportation. Our extensive guide will teach you everything you need to know.

Drive sustainability with ChargeLab

If EVs are going to reach their full potential as clean energy transportation, they’ll need robust infrastructure to power them. Whether you’re charging one van or a fleet of EV delivery trucks, you’ll find it far easier with charging software provided by ChargeLab.

We built our software with OCPP compatibility in mind, making it extremely flexible. Plus, thanks to our smart load balancing, you'll enjoy efficient charging that saves you money. To learn more about how ChargeLab can boost your EV efforts, contact us today.

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