Growing global initiative says organizations linked under a common banner can move markets by committing to electrify their fleets and install charging infrastructure
You’ve heard of strength in numbers. Amy Davidsen believes in signals in numbers.
“If companies come together to commit to convert their fleets to EVs or other zero-emission vehicles, they’re going to send the signal to the market that they don’t want to invest in internal combustion engines,” she says. “It’s pretty clear then to the market that this is [where] corporations want to take their futures.”
Davidsen is New York-based executive director, North America, at The Climate Group. The coming together she’s describing is the process underway through EV100 — a global initiative led by The Climate Group in which member companies commit to either converting their fleets to all-electric by 2030 or installing charging infrastructure at all premises to support electric vehicle uptake by their staff and/or customers. By setting out these intentions on an ambitious timescale, the thinking goes, they can help drive a faster rollout and make EVs more affordable for all.
More than two million vehicles
Launched less than two years ago — during Climate Week in New York City in September 2017 — EV100 now has 45 members. Collectively, their commitments have surpassed two million vehicles. Three of the 45 are Canadian. Ontario Power Generation Inc. joined in December, followed last month by Quebec-based ADM Aéroports de Montréal and Taxelco Inc., owner of two Montreal-area taxi companies and the dormant electric transportation firm Teo Taxi.
“The idea of the campaign was based off a very successful model that we had [launched previously] called RE100,” says Davidsen. “That’s a campaign to get global companies to commit to 100% renewable electricity across their global operations by a specific target date.”
The creation of RE100 “really flipped the market over,” she says. “Many more deals were getting done and driving the costs down for wind and solar. This is anecdotal, but what we hear from a lot of the investment bankers [is] it’s really flipping the market on where that demand is coming from and how strong the corporate signal has been to the market to keep it supported.”
She and her organization are hoping EV100 can have a similar impact. “It’s a little more complicated with vehicles because you have so many different models and types and needs to fit one’s business,” Davidsen says. “But that’s why it’s really important to have these signals that this is the direction that we are all going and that commitments, even though they’re just voluntary, are being made.”
Helpful for businesses
The benefits of EV100 membership go beyond collective signaling. Members have the opportunity to exchange information, experiences and challenges with other companies in the group. “We’ve found it’s helpful for businesses to feel like they’re not alone, that other people might find some things a struggle too,” says Davidsen.
While the member list includes huge companies like Bank of America, Baidu, Ikea Group, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (which manages five area airports) and Wipro Ltd., the bulk of the work at each company often still falls on a few clean energy champions, she notes. “They can be small teams with huge goals and challenges. So, they need to find their peers that they can call.”
To assist, the EV100 organization hosts a webinar series for members and prospective members. It also holds in-person meetings, including an annual Climate Week get-together.
Members also get to interact with policy makers by tapping into The Climate Group’s connections through its role as secretariat of the Under2 Coalition. That group consists of more than 220 state and regional governments committed to decarbonization, policy sharing and transparency in emissions reporting.
Among the Canadian EV100 members, OPG has committed to transition its fleet of more than 400 vehicles to electric, where technically and economically feasible, by 2030. It’s also installing charging points across all of its sites.
ADM, meanwhile, says it will switch its entire fleet of light-duty vehicles at both Montreal-Trudeau International Airport and International Aerocity of Mirabel to electric by 2030, adding 57 EVs to the 12 it already owns. Equally extensive is its pledge to also switch over half of its heavy-duty vehicles (EV100 standards allow latitude for heavy-duty vehicles where the market may not yet be robust enough to support a full conversion) and install charging stations for employees and customers.
“The electrification of our fleet of vehicles represents an efficient and sustainable solution for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Martin Massé, ADM’s vice-president of public affairs, in a release last month.
Taxelco, which delivers almost one-third of all taxi rides in Montreal, says it will switch 1,500 vehicles to electric. The company, which was bought earlier this year by high-profile Quebec business mogul Pierre Karl Péladeau, wants to set an example for the rest of the local industry.
Outreach here to continue
Looking ahead, Davidsen says EV100 is actively seeking more Canadian members. “We’re going to continue our outreach into Canada, through our networks, to identify the most likely prospects.”
She says they are looking across all sectors but notes that shopping mall owners and service companies are logical targets for charging infrastructure. On the fleet side, companies with large light-duty fleets, particularly utilities, are a “natural fit.”
She also believes airports have great potential, both for charging infrastructure and their fleets of service vehicles and busses.
Given the emissions challenges posed by air travel itself, Davidsen says airports can also send a strong, highly visible message to travellers by focusing on their ground operations. “It is something that airports can do to make a big difference today.”