Prime time to electrify last-mile deliveries

Surge in online shopping is driving up delivery emissions. Corporate leaders need to be buying all-electric starting now

While commuter traffic may have slowed dramatically through the first year of the pandemic, one group of motorists was clocking more miles than usual: delivery drivers. Between May 2019 and May 2020, Canadian online retail sales more than doubled, according to Statistics Canada. That surge in e-commerce has meant a spike in last-mile deliveries – the final stage of order fulfillment between our purchased items leaving local distribution hubs and arriving at our front doors.

While ramping up sales of electric passenger vehicles is important and inevitable, last-mile freight delivery offers the lowest-hanging fruit for rapid reduction of carbon emissions. As of today, Natural Resources Canada data show that transportation-related emissions account for 20% of all Canada’s emissions, and freight-related sources represent 42% of that. A 2020 World Economic Forum report predicted that growing demand for e-commerce could bring 36% more delivery vehicles into inner cities by 2030 and increase traffic congestion and emissions by more than 30% in the world’s top 100 cities – problems exacerbated by increased demand for same-day delivery, which more often sees half-empty trucks making rounds. If nothing is done to change the course, the Calgary-headquartered Pembina Institute warns, emissions from last-mile freight delivery will outpace those of passenger vehicles by the end of the decade.

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The electric car you can’t buy or lease

Despite rock-bottom borrowing rates on gas-powered cars, automakers hike up leasing and financing rates on hard-to-find EVs

As the automotive industry attempts to recover from the COVID-19 lockdown, we’ve found bad news and worse news for prospective electric car owners.

For a start, there still isn’t sufficient supply of EVs getting into Canada to meet consumer demand. According to a report prepared for Transport Canada by Montreal-based Dunsky Energy Consulting, just one in three Canadian car dealers had an electric vehicle in stock in the first half of February 2020 (before the pandemic prompted showrooms to close for two months). That figure fell to less than 20% outside of Quebec, B.C. and Ontario, with an average of two- to three-month wait times. “That means many Canadians struggle to find an EV to test drive, let alone buy,” Clean Energy Canada said in a statement.

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Assume EVs are pricier? Our latest showdown proves otherwise

We pit Kia Niro and Tesla Model 3 EVs against gas competitors on total cost of ownership

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a swift and profound effect on the automotive industry, but early signs point to the electric vehicle category weathering the storm on firm footing. While work-from-home orders and extended assembly-plant closures have caused some product delays and cancellations, relatively few of those have been EV projects. Stringent emissions requirements are holding firm in China and Europe, and sales targets remain in place closer to home: Canada is just one of the nations aiming to have 10% of new-vehicle sales be zero-emission vehicles by 2025 and 100% by 2040. These pressures are thus far focusing automaker attention firmly on advancing EV technology and its adoption.

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