The electric future of logistics

JB Singh, Director at Movin Express explains why it makes sense for EVs to be adopted in the logistics industry and the stumbling blocks on the way.

By JB Singh, Movin Express calendar 02 Jan 2024 Views icon3291 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
The electric future of logistics

Electric vehicles (EVs) have been around for a while, but in the last five years, demand and popularity for them have skyrocketed. Without a question, EVs are the way of the future since they are ecologically friendly, designed to reduce fuel consumption and pollution levels, and the ideal option for the nation's future 100 smart cities.

According to a study by the NITI Aayog, India may adopt clean technology, through EVs, to lower logistics costs by four percent of its GDP and avoid 10 gigatons of Co2 by 2030.

These sustainable mobility solutions are gradually replacing internal combustion engines (ICE)-powered vehicles in logistics companies as they have become viable and superior alternatives to ICE-powered vehicles. The demand for effective management and cutting-edge technology is being driven by the EV industry, which is changing and developing. Therefore, choosing EVs for the last-mile delivery system is a wise move.

The logistics sector is making significant investments in this space to make its operations more affordable and environmentally friendly. EVs have proved to be a wise investment as the logistics sector and electric transportation become more and more intertwined. The usage of sustainable vehicles for freight, commodities and packages has been significantly affected by the government's subsidy programme and a number of economic considerations.

Reason for EV’s soaring popularity

Globally, tailpipe emissions from ICE-powered cars, trucks, and other road vehicles make up 75 percent of all emissions. In the current environment, the impact of emissions on the environment is palpable, and governments around the world are committed to meeting climate change goals and switching to EVs is the only wise course of action.

Consider the following. The logistics sector, which relies heavily on road vehicles to transport goods, accounts for eight percent of global emissions. Should the entire logistics sector switch to cleaner mobility solutions, it will go a long way in lowering overall emissions.

These are important reasons why logistics companies are adding EVs to their fleets in greater numbers than ever before. The reasons, however, don’t end here.

Advantages of EVs

When it comes to operating costs, using EVs is more advantageous than using vehicles powered by ICE. For instance, charging EVs costs far less than filling ICE-powered vehicles with petrol or diesel. Furthermore, the maintenance cost of EVs is far lower than that of ICE-powered.

Unlike ICEs, EVs are very quiet, which makes them perfect for today’s busy roads where the non-stop cacophony of ICE-powered vehicles disturbs city dwellers. Furthermore, EVs’ on-road performance is widely acknowledged to be better than that of ICE-powered vehicles (in terms of acceleration). For instance, EVs respond better on the road than ICE-powered vehicles.

While the benefits of using EVs are many, there are many important reasons why the logistics sector is not replacing all its conventional vehicles with EVs just yet. 

Hurdles to overcome

Underdeveloped EV infrastructure stands in the way of the logistics sector becoming an emissions free sector. While Indian logistics companies use lakhs of EVs today, most such vehicles are used to make last mile deliveries.

Logistics companies are reluctant to use EVs on longer routes because there is always a fear that the vehicle may not have sufficient charge to reach its destination and return (range anxiety). The fear that an EV may be left stranded on the road is very real and is holding back many logistics companies from using more EVs.

Another reason keeping logistics providers from adopting more EVs is the relatively higher cost of these vehicles vis-a-vis ICE-powered vehicles. While the operating cost of EVs is lower than that of conventional vehicles, EVs cost more. Hence, many logistics players opt to forgo the savings offered by EVs because the upfront cost of these vehicles is higher than that of ICE-powered vehicles.  

Finally, charging an EV is very time consuming. Slow charging time is another reason why logistics players haven’t added more EVs to their fleets.

These drawbacks mean that despite the obvious advantages of EVs, the majority of the logistics industry’s fleet still consists of ICE-powered vehicles. Today, logistics providers primarily use EVs for last mile delivery, from a distribution hub to a customer's doorstep.

And logistics players use EVs along routes where deliveries can happen on a single charge. Even so, with EVs, logistics players are lowering costs, providing faster service, serving customers better and decarbonising deliveries, and making intra-city logistics as sustainable as possible. But, though the number of EVs used by the logistics sector has never been higher, the hurdles mentioned above are keeping logistics players from replacing all their ICE-powered vehicles with EVs.  

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