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Commercial Vehicles Are Electrifiable Today Lightning eMotors electric vehicles. Photo by Kyle Field/CleanTechnica.

Clean Transport

More Than Half Of American Commercial Vehicles Are Electrifiable Today

Electrifying vans and step vans in Canada and the US would save nearly 5 billion gallons of gasoline each year and avoid 43.5 million tons of CO2 emissions a year.

The North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) and RMI‘s latest research shows that vans and step vans in the US and Canada are 100% electrifiable today. The report Electric Trucks Have Arrived: The Use Case for Vans and Step Vans released today calculates that electrifying vans and step vans would avoid about 43.5 million tons of CO2e emissions annually, equivalent to removing nearly 5 billion gallons of gasoline from our economy per year. Vans and step vans, most easily recognizable as package delivery vehicles, constitute about half of all registered commercial vehicles in North America.

In a volatile energy market, these findings are even more compelling. Shifting to electric package delivery vehicles is not only feasible and beneficial for climate action but will also make a significant impact on decreasing our dependence on foreign oil. Electricity, especially in the context of other fuel types, is less volatile and less expensive than gasoline.

“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. “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.”

We should jump on this opportunity to electrify delivery vehicles, which will save money and significantly reduce emissions while advancing decisive climate action,” said Jules Kortenhorst, CEO of RMI. “Transportation is the largest emitting sector in the United States and as we saw verified in the recent IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report, decarbonizing it is a very cost-effective path toward mitigating climate impacts. This sector is a key early opportunity.

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 found that switching to electric commercial vehicles would have benefits for the health, safety and productivity of their 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 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. Companies that hesitate to electrify their van and step van fleets, or those who further invest in fossil fuel, risk stranded assets.

© 2022 Rocky Mountain Institute. Published with permission. Originally posted on RMI Outlet.


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Written By

Since 1982, RMI (previously Rocky Mountain Institute) has advanced market-based solutions that transform global energy use to create a clean, prosperous and secure future. An independent, nonprofit think-and-do tank, RMI engages with businesses, communities and institutions to accelerate and scale replicable solutions that drive the cost-effective shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. Please visit for more information.


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