Vans and step vans, which constitute about half of all registered commercial vehicles in North America, are 100% electrifiable, according to the latest research from the North American Council for Freight Efficiency and RMI.
The report “Electric Trucks Have Arrived: The Use Case for Vans and Step Vans” calculates that electrification of vans and step vans would result in the avoidance of about 43.5 million tons of Carbon dioxide equivalent annually, equivalent to removing nearly 5 billion gallons of gasoline from our economy per year.
The report concludes that shifting to electric package delivery vehicles is not only feasible and beneficial for climate action, but also will make a significant impact on decreasing North America’s dependence on foreign oil. Electricity, especially in the context of other fuel types, is less volatile and less expensive than gasoline, according to the report.
“As recently as five years ago, I would have questioned the feasibility of electrifying North American van and step van fleets,” said Mike Roeth, NACFE’s executive director in a press release. “The transition to cost parity happened quicker than most of us expected, and I’m as surprised as many to announce today that the electric market has arrived.”
RMI CEO Jules Kortenhorst says transportation is the largest emitting sector in the United States, and that fleets should “jump on this opportunity to electrify delivery vehicles, which will save money and significantly reduce emissions while advancing decisive climate action,”
E-commerce is creating significant growth in the trucking sector this decade. The case for electrification includes cost analysis of the vehicles themselves, energy usage, maintenance and sustainability metrics. Moreover, NACFE’s market research and analysis also found that switching to electric commercial vehicles would have benefits for the health, safety and productivity of drivers.
“For a long time, our couriers would actively go grab a gas vehicle if they could because they knew exactly what they were going to get. That is not the case anymore,” said Gordon Culver, senior operations manager at DHL. “A lot of them gravitate toward the new [electric] trucks that we have knowing that it is the best truck that we have, and it is going to drive the way they want it to, and they can have the nicest ride while they are out there working."
While the electric transition for these vehicles will not be easy or happen overnight, vans provide the most compelling argument for immediate electrification, NACFE officials said.
The report uses findings gathered from the real-world truck demonstration, Run on Less – Electric (RoL-E), conducted in September 2021.