TRANSPORT and logistic companies are embracing zero-emissions vehicles for last-mile deliveries as customer preference and corporate acknowledgement of environmental issues spreads. Specialist EV leasing, rental and subscription company CarBon is supporting this corporate trend and this week assisted one of the country’s biggest transport and logistic businesses, Kings Group, boost the number of its EV vehicles to 14 to make it one of the biggest zero-emission delivery fleets in Australia. Kings started using CarBon in January with five Foton T5 EV trucks and two Skywell EC11 E-Cargo vans. More immediately it plans a further seven vans and trucks from Foton, LDV and Hyundai and then has plans to add even more. CarBon founder and CEO Scott Gillespie told GoAutoNews Premium that the driver of the EV delivery-vehicle movement has been the interest from businesses and in particular, from customers. “A lot of customers say they feel good about having a zero-emission vehicle deliver stuff,” he said. “Retailers are aware of this attitude by customers so a lot are starting to look at how they can use us and the ‘last-mile’ zero-emission vehicles.” He said that most of the attention towards EV delivery vehicles happened in the past six months. “Businesses are facing increasing pressure to transition their fleets to meet ESG (environmental, social and governance) targets, but EVs can also insulate against regulatory dynamics, improve brand equity and importantly, they’re projected to reach total cost of ownership parity across multiple use cases in the next decade.” He said this also applied to CarBon’s other customers that include aged-care services and mobile medical businesses that are interested in small EV cars. Mr Gillespie said that Kings – which operates the fleet for Ikea and has just expanded to a vehicle in Sydney for BMW parts deliveries – is at the forefront of that trend and that CarBon has been guiding them on what best works for their business. Kings Group’s group general manager Tim Horsford said his company had made significant progress on its strategy to reduce its carbon footprint as part of its plan to move to more sustainable solutions in transport. “As a group we’re conscious of our environmental impact, so we’re working with CarBon to take the lead in the integrated logistics sector and transitioning toward zero-emission vehicles where feasible,” he said. Mr Gillespie said the groundswell of support for EV commercial vehicles is tempered only by the cost of buying new vehicles. “The ones that are in the market now are not cheap,” he said. “In many cases, they are more than double the price of a normal van. As an example, the LDV e-Deliver 9 electric van is two-and-a-half times the price of a diesel Deliver 9 van.” Mr Gillespie said that for this reason, using CaBon services to lease, rent or use a subscription service was generally the best entry into zero-emission vehicles for commercial uses. “On the positive side, along with the benefits of customer relations by using zero-emission transport, delivery companies cut their fuel bill as electricity is still one-third of the price of diesel,” he said. “Leasing includes items including vehicle operating costs – but not fuel/electricity. “Also, some customers pay a premium for using an EV for delivering their products so that contributes to making EVs viable for ‘last mile’ deliveries.” Mr Gillespie said that CarBon’s role was to guide delivery businesses on what they can and can’t do “and really understand how they’re going to use their vehicle. “The reason is because some of their contractors might really want an EV but they do too many kilometres to make it feasible. “Equally, they might have delivery deadlines that make it too inconvenient to recharge unless they have a proper depot with charging facilities. “It’s really important to understand the limitations of the EV trucks and vans. That’s where we come in. Margins are thin in these businesses and it’s critical to ensure that the right type of vehicle is being used. “For us it’s about guiding the business, advising them, helping them with their charging infrastructure and ensuring that their deployment is a success.” CarBon is working with all brands offering commercial trucks and vans. It offers the ones to clients that best suit their individual delivery needs. These include Foton, LDV and Hyundai and also a specialist Chinese-made van Skywell 12cu.m van which he classifies as “a very good product”. CarBon has multiple vans in use without any problems, he said. “There are other suitable vans and trucks coming into the market,” he said. “These include the Ford e-Transit, a smaller LDV model, and JAC with a range of trucks.” Clients also represent a diverse range of industries, from local councils to mining and civil construction.