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The Future is now with commercial E-vehicles

In 2019 Harbour Air made history with a successful commercial E-plane flight test in Richmond, BC. The first E-plane flight the world has ever seen consisted of a 62-year-old Harbour Air Beaver seaplane retrofitted with a magniX built electric engine. What an accomplishment for one local airline committed to environmental sustainability in the travel industry. North America’s largest seaplane operator, Harbour Air already has a fully electric, zero-emissions passenger van purchased from another local BC business, GreenPower Motor Company. That, coupled with their continued work with Seattle-based magniX to perfect the retrofitted e-engine for commercial flight service makes them a leader in clean air technology.

Local companies leading the way in commercial electric fleets

Another leader in clean air technology is Richmond, BC-based Novex Delivery Solutions also connected the dots on how e-vehicles could both thrive in their industry and benefit their community. Ten years ago Novex became Canada’s first 100 percent electric truck delivery company with the addition of two e-trucks to their fleet. Today, 100% of the Novex fleet are ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV) or fully electric, a remarkable commitment to environmental sustainability for the same-day delivery company.

Also going electric for local driving is the city of Vancouver. Right now, the City of Vancouver’s engineering and parks fleet includes 100 electric vehicles, with plans to double that amount to 200 in 2021. They also have 44 hybrid/plug-in hybrid vehicles on duty. It’s not just e-cars on the job at the city; they also have 32 heavy-duty vehicles plus equipment including Zamboni, utility vehicles, and forklifts in service and they are all are electric.

Fraser Atkinson, CEO of GreenPower Motor Company commented, “Our zero-emission all-electric buses have demonstrated that they are a viable option for fleet operators who are looking to reduce their carbon footprint and lower their operational costs. Going electric makes tremendous sense for the customer from both an economic and environmental standpoint.”

GreenPower is headquartered in Vancouver, BC with operations in California.

Recently, the State of California mandated to eliminate the use of fossil fuels with cars by 2035 and medium and heavy duty vehicles by 2045. We may see this forward thinking coming to Canada. In BC laws were passed in May of 2019 to have 10% of all cars be zero emission by 2025 and banning the sale of gas-powered cars by 2040.

Electric fleets

It’s only natural that the use of e-vehicles will expand beyond local delivery routes, with the evolution of e-trucks capable of traveling longer distances, contributing to a greener future for logistics and distribution.

“In the very near future, we’ll begin to see an interesting mix of commercial electric vehicles on the road courtesy of several start-ups and established auto manufacturers,” says Reliance Fleet Specialist, Katherine Lana, “Well-known brands like Tesla, Volvo, and Daimler, along with start-ups like Workhorse, and Rivivan are all creating a diverse selection of commercial buses, e-vans, semis, and even 18-wheelers, making it that much easier for businesses to choose environmental sustainability for their fleets.”

Benefits of e-vehicle fleets

There are many benefits to e-vehicles: savings on fuel, long term cost savings, reduced maintenance, and obviously, it’s better for the environment. Novex Delivery Solutions has tracked its cumulative emission reductions since 2008, and it’s the equivalent of removing 188 cars from the road. As for carbon offset, Novex has offset over 7400 tonnes of CO2 emissions, the equivalent of removing 1585 cars from the road for a year.

Credit: Novex Delivery Solutions

With the goal of a greener BC by the year, 2040, the province offers rebates as an incentive to help realize that goal. The Specialty Use Vehicle Incentive (SUVI) includes commercial use e-vehicles, meaning businesses can receive up to $50,000 in rebates; a very attractive offer for businesses planning to expand or convert their commercial fleet to electric.

“There’s definitely incentive for more businesses to go electric right now,” says Katherine Lana, “With the SUVI Program rebate offering up to $50,000, combining that with our Fleetplan Program that offers up to 20 percent discount on insurance rates, a business can really save some money as they support cleaner air and cleaner energy”

The Fleetplan Program allows the owners of five or more power units to have a common expiry date, no principal operators, and potentially earn up to a further 20% discount. This can be a great benefit when a business has multiple drivers for one vehicle, or are planning to expand the fleet to include e-vehicles. The Fleetplan Program insurance coverage is available for both gas-powered vehicles and e-vehicles.

A unique proprietary tool called Discount Forecasting, designed by Reliance Insurance fleet specialists, is a way that discounts can be analyzed to maximize the business’s auto insurance rate. Also, Coverage streamlining is easier when all policies come up for renewal at the same time.

Once a business expands its fleet to include e-vehicles, it is of great importance to protect these new assets and the lives of those operating them. With winter upon us, e-vehicle owners should be aware there are different steps to take preparing and maintaining an e-vehicle during cold weather. We covered winter tips in a recent blog post and it can be found right here. Reliance Insurance is also proud to be your partner in protecting all of your commercial fleet investments by offering defensive driver training courses that include both commercial and personal vehicles. Because we stand for a safer, cleaner future.


SUVI Program/Plugin BC – for fleets
Go Electric BC
Greenpower Motor Company
Novex Delivery Solutions sustainability
Harbour Air makes history
City of Vancouver green fleet
Reliance commercial fleet insurance
Reliance Commercial liability non-owned auto
Tips for driving/maintain e-vehicles during winter

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