Novex Launches Canada’s First All-Electric Delivery Trucks

December 15, 2010
by Gerry Frechette

PURCHASINGB2B MAGAZINE, NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2010: The era of eco-friendly urban parcel delivery has begun, with the deployment by Novex Delivery Systems of two new all-electric delivery vans in Vancouver, the first such vehicles in Canada.

At the unveiling in Vancouver’s Millenium Water development, billed as the most sustainable community in Canada, a biodiesel truck drove past as Novex’s CEO Robert Safrata said, “that is how we’ve done business in the past.” Right behind it were the two electric vans, as Safrata continued “and this is how we’re doing business today and in the future!”

Novex has taken the lead among same-day courier companies being among the first Canadian courier companies to adopt hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius—which are still the mainstay of their fleet—and becoming carbon neutral in 2008. The acquisition of electric vans is part of the company’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint by 70 percent by 2015.

The Newton van that Novex has acquired is manufactured by Smith Electric Vehicles, which for some 80 years has been building electric delivery vehicles in the UK. Recently, the technology has been licensed to an American company based in Kansas City, Missouri, where the vehicles will be built.

The Newton can be configured in various ways, and has a top speed of 80kmh with a range of up to 250km, depending on the configuration of the lithium-ion battery packs. A short ride around the block showed that the three-ton Newton will be a useful and maneuverable van for Novex.

Novex calculates that the two new electric vans will contribute to a reduction in emissions on the order of 58 tonnes of CO2 per year, equivalent to taking 12 cars off the road each year. In addition, the fuel savings are expected to be approximately $25,000 per year.

Results like this are quantifiable, but there has to be a culture of corporate altruism in place to create a sustainable company in a field where the very nature of the business activity—using trucks to deliver things—contributes to environmental degradation.

For example, Novex claims an environmental benefit from the quiet operation of these vans. “A benefit of using these vehicles for early-morning deliveries to hospitals located in residential areas is that they minimize noise pollution,” Safrata says.

Creating an entire fleet of green vehicles by 2015—the stated goal—will be a challenge given that all of Novex’s drivers are owner-operators and cannot be mandated to use a specific vehicle.

Novex’s solution? Novex Mobile Media sells space on each vehicle for mobile ads. The revenue generated is given to the drivers to subsidize the cost of the “clean” delivery vehicle.

Obviously, there is more to corporate environmental leadership than, in this case, just buying a bunch of electric trucks. Novex describes it as adhering to a triple bottom line that includes a social, environmental and economic focus.

“We have made a commitment to do the right thing and consistently focus on creating a sustainable company,” says Safrata. “Sustainability and profit are not mutually exclusive, but a necessity to compete in today’s environment.”

These are all noble and lofty goals for a parcel delivery company, but it all begins where the rubber meets the road, with the delivery vehicle. Novex’s deployment of electric vans is the logical step towards the completely green and sustainable business model it is are pursuing so passionately.

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