Green and alternative fuel vehicles are at the front of mind for most organizations across Canada, and with recent innovations in the sector it’s easy to get excited about fleet procurement opportunities. And it’s right on time. Transportation-related emissions make up 23% of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Light duty vehicles including passenger vehicles and trucks make up 50% of emissions; heavy duty vehicles account for 35%. Reducing fleet emissions is central to Corporate Sustainability Strategies in both the public and private sectors. Every major city in Canada includes Fleet GHG reductions in their Corporate Sustainable Plans and Purchasing has a central role to play in meeting these goals.
The 3 pillars of Green Fleets
1. Electrifying the Fleet – i.e. replacing vehicles with electric options and establishing an effective and accessible charging
2. Fueling the Fleet – i.e. purchasing fuel with renewable, biologically derived content (e.g., B20).
3. Optimizing the Fleet – i.e. using technology and driver behaviour to reduce emissions.
Participants heard from Calgary’s Jack Nott, Team Lead of Acquisitions, Fleet Services and Vancouver’s Evan Dacey, Acting Branch Manager, Fleet Strategy and Asset Management about their progress on the three pillars. They covered issues such as costs, market maturity, the business case for EV’s, RFX requirements, and provided expert opinions on questions from those in attendance.
How to Specify
Rather than prescribing vehicle specifications, Calgary includes performance criteria such as “reduced energy consumption is preferred” — asking vendors to state all available low emissions, alternative fuels and EV options and demonstrate how these options reduce energy use. Having information on all technologies gives Calgary flexibility to negotiate them into the contract and sends a signal to the market. When asked if this reduced the numbers of bidders, Jack said it was quite the opposite. The number of bidders increased, and every bidder included EV chassis pricing.
The Business Case
The upfront capital cost of EVs is a barrier. Considering the total cost of ownership can shift the balance in favour of EVs. In a recent RFP, Calgary found that the Chevy Bolt and Tesla 3 had the lowest total cost of ownership for compact and mid-size cars, respectively based on three simple questions:
1. How much is it?
2. How much does it cost to maintain?
3. How much does it cost in fuel to drive it a certain distance?
Vancouver cited additional benefits that offset the cost of medium and heavy-duty trucks including:
- Internal carbon price of $150/tonne which effectively increases a department’s operating budget.
- Worker health benefits associated with noise reduction on the job.
Another challenge in electrifying the Fleet is limited supply in vehicle categories such as medium and heavy-duty trucks. So, City of Vancouver is conducting pilot projects rather than following a more conventional RFP process.
Here’s how Vancouver approached it:
1. Conducted an RFEOI to better understand the market.
2. Issued an RFA (Request for Application) and pre-qualified three vendors.
They are now working with three vendors to test 4 chassis models on 2 cube vans and 2 refuse trucks.
With so much information, greening fleet vehicles can seem daunting; what we learned from Jack Nott at the City of Calgary, and Evan Dacey at the City of Vancouver is that this is not the case. By asking simple questions of their suppliers, deviating from conventional methods when necessary, and encouraging flexibility from their vendors, Calgary and Vancouver are now piloting innovative technologies instead of piloting policies.