Battery Electric Vehicles: The good, the bad And the dirty!

Original Content

There are many benefits associated with BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicles) over their diesel counterparts. For instance, many BEV users are seeing reduced emissions among other operational benefits like reduced noise and odour, as well as torque, lower fuel cost, and lower maintenance costs. But we also need to look at the other side of the argument. We spoke to John McCaw, VP of Sustainability at Breakthrough, about the benefits and negatives of EVs.

‘The emissions reductions with BEVs can be significant, but it’s important to consider the source of electricity from a lifecycle emissions perspective. The greatest emissions reductions come with the use of renewable sources of electricity such as wind, solar, and hydro,’ explains John.

Typically, we see emissions and price reductions of at least 30% on a load based on location, fuel schedules, and MPG (Mile Per Gallon) efficiencies, among other variable factors.

Barriers to adoption

Barriers to adoption associated with BEVs for fleets include the total cost of ownership (TCO), range limitations, and vehicle supply, as well as a lack of charging infrastructure availability for heavy-duty trucks and the long lead times to develop the required charging infrastructure (12-24 months).

In the recent State of Sustainable Fleets survey (2023 State of Sustainable Fleets Report) the top challenge reported by more than three-quarters of BEV users is vehicle cost followed by range and vehicle availability.

Polyfuel approach

Shippers exploring alternatives to fossil fuel are considering a polyfuel approach based on their transportation sustainability goals, the geographic location of the route, and the length of haul. CNG/RNG, biodiesel, renewable diesel, battery-electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are all relevant options in the 2023 energy landscape. A polyfuel strategy is necessary as cleaner alternatives build infrastructure and shippers and carriers transition their fleets.

‘This strategy also enables a gradual transition from fossil fuels to cleaner alternatives. With innovative decarbonisation solutions emerging, it is imperative to begin considering the infrastructure and partners available,’ John continues.

Shippers have the opportunity to lead sustainable transportation practices. By proactively learning and understanding the various alternative fuel options and limitations, they can reduce emissions and costs simultaneously, optimize their networks, and build strategic partnerships. As aggregate demand increases for sustainable capacity, carriers and energy providers will respond by offering sustainable options. Regulatory support, as observed in California and parts of Europe today, can further incentivise action and facilitate the transition. ✷

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