Nearly half of American consumers say they would favor one e-commerce package carrier over another if it used electric vehicles (EVs) instead of gas-burning vans, according to a survey from New Hampshire-based fleet management company Merchants Fleet.
The statistic comes as 55% of U.S. shoppers are planning to buy more goods online this holiday season than last year, despite the challenges of rising inflation and a volatile stock market.
But even as they whip out their credit cards, consumers say they are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of package delivery. According to Merchants Fleet, more than 70% of consumers have considered that environmental impact of package delivery, and nearly 60% said environmental impact was at least somewhat factored into their decision to have packages shipped.
Academic studies have shown that online shopping can be a dirty habit, generating carbon emissions both from the giant vehicles that haul import containers around the globe and from the small vans that whisk orders to residential homes. One of the worst offenders in that process is next-day delivery and other express services, since transporters often carry those boxes in partly empty trucks in order to make tight deadlines, instead of waiting until the trucks are packed full to wring the most efficiency from every gallon of gas they burn.
In search of a solution, more than half (54%) said they would like to see delivery fleets transition from gas-powered vehicles to electric vehicles. And according to the survey, consumers are willing to put their money where their mouths are—48% would choose one package carrier over another if they knew that only one would deliver by electric vehicle, and 56% would consider buying more online if they knew their packages would be delivered by an EV.
Despite the promise of using low-emission EVs, the industry has a long way to go before they start replacing conventional cars and trucks.
"We predict that among the fleets we manage, more than 90,000 packages per day will be delivered in an EV during peak holiday season," John Cail, senior vice president of mobility at Merchants Fleet, said in a release. "While notable, it's still a drop in the bucket compared to the 5 million that will be delivered daily by internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. There's still a lot of work to be done to meet consumer demand for green shipping. While many fleets are just beginning their EV journey, this is a clear indication that it's time to start putting an EV adoption plan in place."
Merchants Fleet says it is the fourth largest provider of fleet management services nationally, with over 175,000 managed commercial fleet units across North America. The private equity-backed firm says it is moving toward electrification of commercial fleets, pointing to its existing reservations for 40,000 electric vehicles, representing an investment of $2.5 billion.