Companies pushing the gas pedal for electric car fleets

Companies pushing the gas pedal for electric car fleets

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

AUSTRALIA’S corporate fleet of passenger cars has a big role to play in driving the electric vehicle (EV) revolution our country needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and clean up air pollution in our cities.

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

It’s not just sheer number of cars, SUVs, trucks and vans driving around under company logos – 4.5 million company vehicles were on our roads in 2022 – but the impact that resale would have is driving the entire market towards faster electrification. Of all new car sales, 41% are purchased for company fleets, all of which end up on the used market in the short term.

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A fuel efficiency standard would be a critical measure to address the climate crisis and it is up to the public to make their voices heard.

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

There is every reason why large companies would want to do the right thing and electrify their fleets – electric vehicles are good for business, help achieve sustainability goals, provide reputational benefits and improve fuel safety.

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

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

The audited companies were committed to their commitments to:

  • electrify cars, vans, SUVs, trucks and supply chain;
  • renewable energy to supply the necessary electricity; and
  • participation in education, opinion formation and leadership.

And in a victory for all who love Allen keys and meatballs (which has now arrived meat free options), it was the iconic Swedish home store, IKEAwhich ended it top of the ranking.

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

Bank Australia finished second in the league table and deserves special mention as it has also engaged to stop lending money for the purchase of new fossil fuel vehicles from 2025.

Especially not either Coles nor Woolworths performed well in the scorecard. In the last two years, both Coles and Woolworths have made excellent commitments in line with Paris to shift all their electricity needs to be supplied from renewable sources by 2025, so for each of the two giant retailers it is now a matter of getting their corporate fleets on board with the clean energy transition.

Worst of the ranked companies was Office work, JB Hi-Fi and David Joneswith rental car companies Newspaper in the very last place score zero, zip, zilch, nada, nothing across all criteria.

To keep pace with society’s expectations and be adapted to Paris climate goalscompanies must commit to:

  • electrify all new cars added to the fleet from 2025 and set a target of 100% light vehicles by 2030;
  • commit to zero-emission trucking by 2040, starting with a transition to electric short-haul trucks by 2030; and
  • get supply chains on board with the commitments by adding them to tenders and contracts by 2024.

Whether or not a large company has an electrified fleet will be a key test of corporate sustainability in the coming years. Those companies that aren’t at the top of the EV rankings would be wise to hit the gas pedal.

David Ritter is the managing director of Greenpeace Australia Pacific. You can follow David on Twitter @David_Ritter.

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