You source local ingredients, compost your waste and choose environmentally-friendly packaging. But have you considered the impact of the vehicles you use to support your business?

Evidence continues to mount regarding the environmental and health advantages of replacing combustion engine vehicles with electric ones. In fact, the recent Clearing the Air report from Environmental Defence and the Ontario Public Health Association modelled that greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by eight megatonnes if all cars, SUVs and public buses in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area were electric. The report points out that “That’s equivalent to the output of two coal plants, or about half of the reductions needed to meet Ontario’s 2030 carbon emissions reduction targets.” And there are significant positive public health outcomes too: 313 deaths per year could be prevented in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area if cars and SUVs were 100 per cent electric.

Despite the benefits, there are perceived barriers around converting to Electric Vehicles (EVs). And when EVs are used for business purposes, it’s important to make sure the decision doesn’t have a negative effect on efficiency and the bottom line. Here’s the lowdown on the typical concerns about EVs:

“They’re expensive.”

“It’s normal to have sticker shock when you look at upfront costs,” says Sarah Buchanan, Clean Economy Program Manager at Environmental Defence. However, it’s important to consider the lower maintenance and fuel costs of EVs in the lifetime cost of operating the vehicle. Generally, the cost is actually lower over time.

And the Canadian government offers point-of-sale incentives of $2,500 to $5,000, depending on the type of vehicle. Some provinces, such as British Columbia and Quebec, offer additional rebates.

You can also write off for zero-emission vehicles (which includes EVs), including light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles purchased by a business. You can get more details HERE.

“I won’t be able to find a charging station.”

Depending on the length of your trips, it’s likely most of your charging can be done at home (most new EVs come with a charging station). In fact, automobile manufacturer Kia reports that 71 per cent of EV charging is done at home. However, there are currently 14,000 public charging ports across Canada, and there has been a 50 per cent year-over-year growth in the amount of new charging stations, says Buchanan. “The federal government is investing in more charging stations, so the numbers will only increase.”

Admittedly, charging stations may be harder to come by in rural areas. That’s when a hybrid vehicle may be a good choice, says Buchanan (incentives are also available for these vehicles).

“The charge won’t last long enough.”

EVs carry with them the stigma of constantly having to be charged. But this perception is based on limitations of the old version of EVs. “Battery technology is advancing is so fast and range has improved dramatically,” says Buchanan. EVs can travel more than 350km on a single charge. But again, a hybrid option might be an appropriate choice if this is still a concern after considering your driving habits.

“It takes forever to charge an EV.”

The advancements in battery life (see above) have made this less of a concern. If you have a home charging station and you’re not expecting to drive more than 300 km between at-home charging, this isn’t a huge concern. However, most EVs can be charged in under an hour at a Level 3 charging station (the fastest option and the most common type at consumer charging stations).

Ultimately, says Buchanan, the choice should be based on thorough research and consideration of your business’s needs along with the environmental impact. She recommends the website for calculators and the latest information. And while you’re mulling it over, know that there are other green changes you can make to your transportation habits:

  • Ask suppliers to deliver at off-peak hours so trucks aren’t sitting in traffic and polluting more.
  • Do you have to use vehicles all the time? Consider using bikes deliver orders and supplies
  • Plan it out: be strategic about routes and try to decrease the number of trips.