IKEA wants business to embrace electric vehicles

At a launch event in Sydney on Friday, IKEA showed off two of the first seven electric trucks it has operating in Australia, with a commitment to have a quarter of all “customer fulfilment vehicles” to be electric by the next year, and a full transition to be completed by 2025.

The electric vehicles (EVs) have been trialled in Victoria since April 2018, with the electric vehicles since expanded to Sydney and Perth.

IKEA’s head of Australia and New Zealand, Jan Gardberg, said that he hoped the company’s shift to electric vehicles would act as “inspiration for others to follow”, much in the same way that IKEA got on board early with LED lighting.

“When you look at the development of consumerism, it’s the right thing to do,” Mr Gardberg said, noting the huge and continuing increase in consumer deliveries, both in Australia and worldwide.

“We don’t view this as creating a competitive edge,” he said, but rather as a “responsibility” to the planet and its inhabitants.

However, Mr Gardberg did note that there is a benefit to the retailer’s bottom line from making the shift.

“It’s not just good for the environment, but we also see it makes good business sense [for the future].”

Partner company ANC noted that the electric lorries are capable of carrying 400 kilograms more load than the diesel version of the same model, meaning fewer trips back to the loading dock.

It also said that there are benefits for drivers, as the much quieter, smoother battery engine removes the noise, vibration and heat generated by petrol and diesel-powered engines.

The electric trucks average around 250 kilometres of city-based driving before needing to be recharged, which sees them complete around 17 to 20 customer deliveries per day.

Just one of the electric trucks is estimated to save 36.3 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide from being pumped into the atmosphere.

And for rev heads, the company noted that each (unloaded) truck has 1470Nm torque, effectively putting it into the same league as elite sports cars.

Mr Gardberg also wants consumers to think about their own personal choices, and suggested that customers will increasingly shift their spend towards companies that are less reliant on fossil fuels.

‘Government must support transition’

Speaking at the launch event, Mark Cameron of SEA Electric called for Australian governments to follow their counterparts in other countries — including New Zealand and China — to encourage uptake of electric vehicles.

He said that Australians are generally quite “cost sensitive” and so the current price premium for purchasing electric vehicles is a barrier, but that government subsidies could reduce this price discrepancy and allow consumers to see the benefits of going electric for themselves.

In its annual Infrastructure Priority List for 2019, Infrastructure Australia called for the delivery of a national fast-charging network for electric vehicles, with it labelled a “high priority initiative”.

“Technological change is driving significant shifts in infrastructure demand. The advent of electric vehicles, along with automation, growth in the ‘sharing economy’ and technological connectivity, could bring the largest transformation the transport sector has seen since the shift from steam to diesel locomotives,” it said.

“The increase in electric vehicle uptake will forge links between the energy and transport network that did not previously exist, placing additional demands on the grid and pressure on consumer costs.”

The IKEA event noted that 11 countries around the world have already committed to phase out petrol and diesel cars, with targets set for between 2025 and 2030, and that the estimated 4 million electric vehicles currently on the road worldwide is set to explode as Tesla prepares to begin delivery of its Model 3 in the second half of this year.

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