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Deloitte Canada releases blueprint to accelerate fleet electrification

Power to the Fleet report provides key recommendations for Canada's business community

Deloitte Canada supply chain and network operations partner Elizabeth Baker. (Courtesy Deloitte Canada)
Deloitte Canada supply chain and network operations partner Elizabeth Baker. (Courtesy Deloitte Canada)

Deloitte Canada intends to play a critical role in accelerating the decarbonization of the Canadian commercial vehicle transportation sector.

To that end, the company has released its Power to the Fleet blueprint outlining the strategies needed to electrify corporate vehicle fleets.

According to the report, Canada's charging infrastructure is in urgent need of upgrading and expansion to prevent unnecessary delays in the transition toward carbon-neutral commercial fleets. 

In addressing this potential bottleneck, corporations will be encouraged to invest more heavily in the electrification of a sector that accounts for 60 per cent of total road transport emissions.

Deloitte's electrification roadmap also outlines the broader need for planning and cooperation between governments, corporations and electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers in developing a thriving electric fleet ecosystem. 

"Electrifying commercial fleets isn't just about reducing emissions; it's about future-proofing businesses for the evolving mobility landscape," Elizabeth Baker, Deloitte Canada supply chain and network operations partner, said in a release. 

A call for an ecosystem approach to scale up electrification

Deloitte, one of the world's largest financial, tax and risk advisory consultancies, is expanding its sustainability offerings as part of an overall commitment to a net-zero future. Commercial fleet electrification is one pillar in that effort and Baker is helping to spearhead the company's fleet decarbonization unit.

"We want to play a role and have an impact on several fronts. One is helping clients to specifically think about their fleet planning, their procurement, and the steps they need to take to electrify their fleets. But on a broader basis, we want to help companies connect across the ecosystem and connect to the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers)," Baker told Sustainable Biz Canada.

"We know that many large companies currently have only one or two or a handful of electric vehicles in their fleets and we want firms to start moving beyond that and think along the lines of 'how to start moving into wide-scale adoption'."

At present, the Canadian government has set a target of achieving 30 per cent zero-emission new vehicle sales by 2030 and 100 per cent new truck and bus sales by 2040.

Deloitte believes there is a palpable need to step up efforts to build a reliable, nationwide EV infrastructure that will boost engagement and correspondingly develop more effective power management and supply strategies. 

"In order to get over that hurdle and move towards wide-scale adoption, a key part of that process involves building the infrastructure. We want to provide companies with the information as well as the context in which they can undertake those considerations and start scaling up (their electrification efforts)," Baker said.

"Our blueprint is unique in that it gets down to a more granular level than some of what we're seeing in (the) market concerning how companies need to move in this direction and the things they need to think about."

Key findings, innovations and solutions in the blueprint

Some of the main points in Deloitte's electrification blueprint are:

  • Fleet owners must choose between behind-the-fence (private infrastructure) and outside-the-fence (public infrastructure) charging options based on operational needs and business models.
  • Selecting the right ownership model and accessing financing opportunities are crucial for successful infrastructure development. Green financing and government grants can substantially reduce costs, facilitating broader electrification efforts.
  • Technologies like microgrid solutions and energy storage enhance resilience and cut costs for behind-the-fence charging, offering increased site capacity and supplementary energy supply.
  • Bi-directional charging, where vehicles act as mobile battery storage, is being explored as an addition to microgrid systems.
  • Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles may be preferable in certain applications and locations where battery technology alone isn't sufficient, such as long-range transportation.

A sooner rather than later approach to fleet electrification

The blueprint also makes it clear Canadian companies need to begin planning to meet the growing demand for charging infrastructure as part of the switch from internal combustion engines (ICEs) to EVs.

Deloitte’s research has already established EV operating costs are approximately 30-40 per cent lower than ICEs, which means the net cost advantage of electrified transportation is achieved earlier in the life cycle of EVs.

"We are trending towards a situation where the total cost of EV ownership is lower than that for ICE vehicles. The cost of electricity per kilometre is lower than the cost of fuel per kilometre, particularly when you look at the carbon price trends that we're expecting to see. That means that the savings in terms of operating expenditures will offset some of that capital outlay up front over time. 

"We're also expecting that maintenance costs will be a lot lower. Electric vehicles have about 80 per cent less moving parts than an ICE vehicle . . . The market is moving quickly and the transition of short-haul fleets to zero-emission vehicles and electric vehicles is imminent. Our opinion is that fleet owners need to be aware of the market and prepare to move," Baker said in remarks made in January.

Deloitte expects larger corporations to serve as trendsetters, particularly in electrifying short-haul vehicle fleets.

"The major couriers like Purolator and FedEx Canada, as well as the large retailers and a lot of food service industries have already made announcements over the last 18 months regarding plans to begin acquiring electric vehicles," Baker said.

"The courier companies are further ahead. Purolator, for example, has 150 EVs in their fleet already and they're planning on deploying another 150 this year. They are likely going to be one of the the leaders, as we would expect in the case of FedEx Canada and Canada Post, which has made some strong commitments regarding fleet electrification."

Stakeholders in Canada’s EV ecosystem will need to work together 

Deloitte's fleet electrification unit is trying to get Canadian companies to be proactive rather than reactive. In her leadership role in this effort, Baker is committed to bringing Canadian companies on board the electrification bandwagon.

"This is an industry I've worked in for a very long time. I have two little boys, a two year old and a four year old, and I take the goal of decarbonization very personally.

"Over the last three to four years, the pressure to electrify fleets has really come to the forefront of the discussion. So I want to apply my knowledge of the industry and my understanding of how transport fleets operate to one day have a positive impact for my children."

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