Why fleet sustainability involves more than electric vehicles

Fleets with a real environmental commitment must look beyond electrifying their vehicles to ensure truly sustainable operations, according to industry experts at the Fleet Europe Summit.

Powertrain electrification is clearly helping to move towards net-zero carbon goals, but other factors also play a significant role in the carbon footprint of vehicles over their lifetime.

Renewable energy

Sourcing green and renewable energy is one of the first considerations, shortening the distance an electric car has to travel before having a lower carbon impact than an equivalent ICE at 30,000km, from 160,000km with a typical German energy mix that includes fossil fuels. fuel-generated energy, said Florian Luft, director of business development, Envision (pictured above).

“A mobility transformation without an energy transformation does not deliver the full impact of emissions reductions,” he said.

In addition, electric vehicle fleets will be able to play a key role in renewable energy storage and peak shaving (reducing the need for CO2-intensive power generation at peak times).

“Going electric is the start of a net-zero transition, which involves going far beyond changing a car’s engine,” Luft said.

CO2 from vehicle production

Carbon emissions from vehicle production will become a consideration for environmentally focused fleets as manufacturers strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing and assembly.

Stellantis aims to be “carbon-free” by 2038, said the group’s COO, Uwe Hochgeschurtz (pictured above right, with Steven Schoefs, editor of Fleet Europe).

“Across all processes, from suppliers to manufacturing, delivering cars, driving and using the car, the car must be carbon neutral. And if you emit CO2, you must be able to offset” , said Hochgeschurtz.

One challenge, however, is that manufacturing an electric vehicle has a significantly larger carbon footprint than a comparable ICE vehicle, largely due to the batteries.

Kerstin Meerwaldt, Strategy Lead Sustainability Experience, BMW Group, said: “When you electrify a fleet, a lot of the emissions go from the tailpipe to the supply chain and the factory. The battery manufacturing process is very energy intensive,” said.

Within two years, BMW will open a plant in Hungary powered entirely by renewable energy, and adopting a circular economy strategy of using green energy, recycled materials and planning from the design stage of a vehicle how its components can be recovered and reused, the automaker aims to reduce the life cycle CO2 emissions of its vehicles by 40% by 2030, compared to 2019 levels, Meerwaldt said.

CO2 data analysis

This kind of forensic and scientific knowledge is lacking in many fleets, said Yves Helven, CEO of Ovidrive (pictured below right).

“Sustainability is much more than replacing a gasoline car with an electric car. It’s about reporting, adhering to the right accounting principles, and then doing the right analysis and choosing the right options in the right countries for the right types of fleets to achieve that 2030 or 2035 goal,” said he declared.

“I understand that we all want to simplify the complex tasks ahead of us, but when it comes to sustainability, you have to accept a certain level of complexity. And if you’re struggling to manage this complexity, seek help – supply chain is here to help.

Residual emissions remain an important consideration for fleets that have achieved the highest level of electrification, Helven added.

“Even in a very mature country with 100% EV adoption, you still have around 30% residual emissions from your baseline. In less mature countries, it goes up to 70%,” did he declare.

“That’s the part you can’t address through electrification, so what do you do next? Do you try carbon offsetting or a transition to mobility solutions, do you use telematics to teach employees to drive in a more sustainable way? You need to deploy a number of solutions to reduce your residual emissions where you want them in 2030.”

CO2 simulator

Rental giant Alphabet has developed a simulation tool that allows fleets to model the CO2 impact of different strategies, so fleets can assess the success and cost of individual policies, said Marcus Deusing, CEO of International Alphabet.

He cited new research from Alphabet which showed that 38% of fleets have specific CO2 reduction targets for the next six years, and 64% of fleets identify a reduction in their CO2 emissions as “very significant”.

Sales of electric vehicle fleets are increasing

The findings are backed up by new car sales data, which shows fleets are leading the charge towards electrification, with higher adoption of battery-electric models than private drivers, said Marc Odinius, CEO of Dataforce. .

It predicts that electric vehicles will become the dominant powertrain in Europe’s seven major fleet markets by 2027, overtaking petrol, with countries like the UK and Belgium reaching that milestone even earlier. In 2022, 13% of actual fleet sales in these seven countries will be electric, compared to 33% diesel.

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