Environment Analysis

Corporations hitting accelerator for electric vehicle fleets

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IKEA is leading the race to electric vehicle conversion while some others are stalling (Screenshot via YouTube)

A new ranking has outlined the companies that are leading the charge for committing to electric vehicles and those lagging behind, writes David Ritter.

AUSTRALIA’S CORPORATE passenger vehicle fleets have a huge part to play in driving the electric vehicle (EV) revolution that our country needs in order to slash greenhouse gas emissions and clean up air pollution in our cities.

And this is a big deal, because as this column has noted before, road transport emissions are one of the largest and fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas pollution in Australia, with cars and light commercial vehicles counting for 60% of all transport emissions.

It is not just the sheer number of cars, utes, trucks and vans that drive around under corporate logos – 4.5 million corporate vehicles were driving around on our roads in 2022 – but the impact that the resales would have, driving the entire market to more rapid electrification. Of all new car sales, 41% are purchased for corporate fleets, all of which end up in the second-hand market in short order.

Corporate fleets swapping to renewable energy could substantially reduce Australia’s annual domestic climate pollution from road vehicles — as outlined in a new Greenpeace report: ‘Charging Corporate Action: The Case for Renewable-Powered Electric Vehicle Fleets’.

There’s every reason why major corporations would want to do the right thing and electrify their fleets – electric vehicles are good for business, assist in meeting sustainability targets, bring reputational benefits and improve fuel security.

But some companies are proving to be much slower off the mark than others and customers, citizens and the climate can’t afford the wait.

Earlier this month, Greenpeace published the very first league table ranking major Australian businesses on their commitments to cleaner energy transport.

The examined companies were engaged in their commitments to:

  • electrifying cars, vans, utes, trucks and supply chain transport;
  • renewable energy to supply the necessary electricity; and
  • participation in education, advocacy and leadership.

And in a victory for everyone who loves Allen keys and meatballs (which now come in no-meat alternatives), it was the iconic Swedish homeware retailer, IKEA, which finished on top of the rankings.

IKEA has committed to 100% renewable electricity by 2025, to electrify all cars and vans including a target for zero-emissions last mile delivery by 2025 and to zero-emission electric trucks by 2040.

Bank Australia finished in second place on the league table and is deserving of special mention because it has also committed to stopping lending money for the purchase of new fossil fuel vehicles from 2025.

Notably, neither Coles nor Woolworths performed well in the scorecard. In the last two years, both Coles and Woolworths have made excellent Paris-aligned commitments to shift all of their electricity needs to being supplied from renewable sources by 2025, so for each of the two giant retailers is now a matter of getting their corporate fleets up to speed with the clean energy transition.

The worst of the ranked companies were Officeworks, JB Hi-Fi and David Jones, with hire car company Avis in the very last place scoring zero, zip, zilch, nada, nothing across all criteria.

In order to keep pace with community expectations and to be aligned to the Paris climate goals, businesses need to commit to:

  • electrifying all new cars added to the fleet from 2025 and setting a target for 100% of light vehicles by 2030;
  • committing to zero emissions trucking by 2040, starting with a transition to electric for short distances and delivery trucks by 2030; and
  • getting supply chains on board with the commitments by adding them to tenders and contracts by 2024.

Whether or not a major business has an electrified fleet is set to become a key test of corporate sustainability over the next few years. Those businesses that are not at the top of the EV rankings would be well advised to hit the accelerator.

David Ritter is the chief executive officer of Greenpeace Australia Pacific. You can follow David on Twitter @David_Ritter.

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