In a post-pandemic age, we observed the effects of a dramatic decrease in mobility on sustainability. As consumers all over the world were mandated to stay home, it appeared that the environment was taking a massive sigh of relief.
Amidst the destruction, the pandemic breathed life into more conscious consumerism and a greener outlook for many. In addition, the volatility of fuel prices, the plummeting of EV ownership costs, and the growing penalties enacted on those who own conventional or ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles, has also contributed to EVs picking up steam amongst the mainstream.
Despite the surge in EV adoption, these vehicles have been around for longer than one would think. In fact, electric vehicles date back to the 1800s, with the first working electric car being developed in the 1830s by Robert Anderson. Anderson’s vehicle was powered by a disposable battery that utilised crude oil. The early version of EVs were likened to carriages but they were burdened by non-rechargeable batteries, rendering them impractical.
However, it wasn't until the 1890s that electric cars became more practical due to a series of technological breakthroughs regarding batteries. Leading the charge was a chemist from Des Moines, Iowa named William Morrison. Morrison’s electric carriage was a traditional 19th Century horse-drawn carriage that was converted to house a battery. This carriage could transport 12 people at a maximum speed of 32 km/h.
New York Taxi drivers were some of the first commercial users of electric cars, and taxi drivers in Berlin and London quickly followed suit. Similarly, large hotel groups also made use of fleets of electric vehicles to transport their guests. It is estimated that one third of cars were electric in 1900.
As we rang in the 20th century, many people made the shift from the traditional horse and carriages to motorised vehicles. This resulted in a rise in steam, gasoline, and electric automobiles, although at this time, the market was dominated by steam-powered vehicles, with electric cars coming in a close second.
In the 1870s, steam vehicles lost their, well, steam — this was because these vehicles took too long to start up and they needed to be regularly refilled with water to function, rendering them impractical.
At the time, gasoline or fuel-powered vehicles required drivers to change gears and required a crank to get started. Gasoline-powered automobiles were also noisy and emitted harmful pollutants. As more people gained access to electricity, electric cars became a more popular option — they were also quiet and easier to maneuver. This made electric cars popular amongst the upper class.
As the electric cars’ popularity grew, big names entered their hats into the ring. Porsche’s founder, Ferdinand Porche, developed the first hybrid car in the 1900s and around this time Thomas Edison and Henry Ford teamed up to attempt building an affordable EV, however, this project fell by the wayside.
As gasoline became more accessible, internal combustion engines (ICE) became more affordable and thus more mainstream. Where electricity was only available in cities, gas was cheap and readily available. This resulted in there being a stagnation in electric cars for the majority of the 1900s and they were almost obsolete by the mid-1930s.
The technology surrounding ICE vehicles also matured, no longer requiring the driver to tediously turn the crank to start the vehicle as automatic starters were introduced.
In the 70s, we saw a resurgence of interest in electric cars as oil prices soared and gasoline shortages transpired. People sought a solution to oil dependence, and so engineers and automakers explored alternative fuel options.
General Motors’ EV-1 was introduced in 1996, pioneering modern electric cars. This vehicle was powered by lead-acid batteries, which went up to 160 per charge, while the nickel metal hydride battery models traveled at a maximum of 225km. Unfortunately, these vehicles were too expensive to produce which led to ceasing production.
Hot on their heels was the Toyota Prius, released in 1997. When speaking of EVs, this would be one of the first most people would remember as it was the first mass-produced hybrid electric vehicle. Due to its environmentally-friendly nature and the rising gas prices at the time, the Prius was a major success since its worldwide release in 2000.
Come 2003, we saw a major turning point in modern EVs when Martin Eberhard and Mark Tarpenning formed Tesla Motors. In 2008 Tesla's lithium-ion powered Roadster was launched, which could travel an unprecedented 320km on a single charge.
Tesla’s lithium-powered vehicles birthed a new era of EVs as we know them today, and most of the electric cars being manufactured today are powered by the same technology.
As new battery technology was founded, EVs became more affordable as the cost to manufacture them lowered, this led to many automotive manufacturers entering the electric game.
Currently, the use of electric vehicles has skyrocketed to around 10 million EV drivers in 2022, making the industry worth over $250 billion. This is a far shout from the 3 million recorded EV drivers in 2017.
With the growing emphasis on global warming, carbon emissions, and greener operations, we are seeing more consumers make the switch to EVs — whether they come in the form of bikes, cars, or trucks, the evolution of EVs is not slowing down.
Whether it's trucks, buses, taxis, or rideshare vehicles, fleets operate on a mass scale and consequently produce more emissions. In fact, the trucking industry is a small segment of vehicles on the road, they produce 40% of all road transport emissions. This, coupled with the associated maintenance costs, makes fleets an ideal candidate for EVs.
As proper asset utilisation is imperative to a successful fleet, EVs can help fleet operators cut costs and reduce their carbon footprint, this is because they emit zero emissions and are cheaper to maintain. Climate Group’s EV100 program strives to make electric transport the new normal by 2030. Moreover, Climate Group reported that over 400,000 corporate EVs are on the road across the globe, this is a 93% increase from 2022’s figures. Companies like Amazon, DHL, IKEA, and Waste Management are electrifying their fleets.
This influx of corporations shifting to EVs can be due to:
A greater push from the government and authorities is a great driving force in EV adoption and cementing it as the new normal in the future. Globally governments are implementing initiatives that restrict where ICE vehicles can operate or putting a stop to new ICE vehicle sales as a whole. Additionally, however, governments are also incentivising the adoption of EVs through rebates.
We’ve established that EVs are a great fit for fleets because they’re more sustainable and will cut off the reliance on gasoline, a costly expense. However, there Evs are an excellent solution for your fleet for multiple other reasons, such as:
EVs can reach maximum torque and produce greater acceleration from a full stop, this is particularly useful when carrying a heavy load like passengers or freight. Additionally, EVs are quieter than ICE vehicles.
Electric fleet vehicles don’t utilise oil, transmission fluid, or spark plugs, which contributes to the higher cost of ownership with ICE vehicles. As EVs are free of this they don’t require maintenance as frequently.
Taking the time to fuel up your vehicle adds up, and can lead to a loss in productivity — especially when your drivers are traveling long distances and need to visit the gas station more regularly. When operating an EV, drivers can charge their vehicles overnight or during their downtime, maximising efficiency.
Learn more about fleet sustainability.