Electric driving in logistics? Only if we work together.

Electric driving in logistics? Only if we work together.

For private and company cars, the shift to electric has already begun in earnest. But will the logistics industry follow suit? Only if it takes a smart approach to energy, says Rik Wymeersch of MobilityPlus.

Opinion: Rik Wymeersch, e-mobility partner and business manager at MobilityPlus

The logistics industry is clearly lagging behind in the transition to electric mobility. This is hardly surprising: unlike passenger cars, an HGV or logistics vehicle is a tool that is designed to be as efficient as possible, in addition to being profitable. Barriers to electric driving in logistics include affordability, range and charging time. Every minute spent at standstill means you are losing revenue. There are other challenges too: currently, freight vehicles running on electric batteries cost more and are heavier, meaning they can transport less freight. This explains why logistics companies are loath to make the shift to electric driving. The bottom line is that revenue will always suffer.

Obviously, new technology will partly or completely resolve many of the above problems, such as around range and charging speed. At the same time, every company will have to define its charging profile. Do we operate in the city or in rural areas, and at national or international levels? Do we specialise in light freight or heavy transport? Does our fleet need to be on the road 24/7 or can our vehicles recharge during loading or unloading? The charging location also plays an important role: while passenger vehicles can be charged at home or at work, the logistics industry needs to provide charging infrastructure on its own sites. This has to be feasible at the price-technical level.

Answers need to be found to these questions, in order to develop solutions that are tailored to each company’s individual needs. At the same time, you also need to take the bigger picture into account: where will we find the energy needed to make all these businesses switch to electric driving?

Vertically-integrated charging infrastructure may provide the answer. Just like a large fuel producer drills for crude oil and then processes this oil to sell as fuel, the logistics industry must provide its own energy supply as much as possible.

Vertically-integrated charging infrastructure is a must for the logistics sector

Rik Wymeersch, e-mobility partner and business manager at MobilityPlus

High time, in other words, for the logistics industry to take action and map out all the available options. If you are unable to generate your own energy, partnerships are the perfect solution. Companies must therefore join forces to develop clustered energy ecosystems: installing solar panels together, producing high electrical capacity as a group, or investing in a (shared) electric fleet. In addition to providing charging infrastructure, companies can also share and manage it, set a price for it, and even sell it.

That is how you become independent from giant energy and fuel corporations. That is how you create enough energy to facilitate greener logistics. And that is how you kick off the transition to electric driving in logistics.