Multinationals like IKEA, DHL, and Baidu are throwing their support behind a new electric vehicle initiative

The market for electric vehicles is steadily growing, but there’s a sense that things need to move faster, and most of the players in the game seem to be stuck in low gear. 


Above: Tesla Model S getting charged up at an IKEA in Montpellier, France (Twitter: @toddington_h)

“We want to make electric transport the new normal,” says Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group. “Transport is still the fastest growing area of carbon emissions, as the shift to electric vehicles is not happening fast enough; and mass system change, even with government intervention, needs much greater customer demand.”

Tesla is forging boldly ahead, but it can’t transform the massive auto market by itself - even if it realizes its incredibly ambitious production goals, it will still be able to meet only a tiny fraction of the global demand for cars. The legacy automakers, understandably reluctant to allow their money-losing electric experiments to cannibalize sales of their highly profitable gas vehicles, stubbornly refuse to advertise and market their EVs. Governments try to lend a helping hand, but their objectives tend to be timid, their commitment wavers as the political winds shift, and - at least in democracies - their power to influence producers and consumers is limited.

The Climate Group has big plans to enlist new allies in the fight: corporations, many of which are already committed to innovation and sustainability. The EV100 initiative aims to leverage the influence of large companies to shift electric vehicle adoption into high gear. 10 major global brands have become charter members.


Above: News on the companies joining The Climate Group's EV100 Campaign (Youtube: Energy Live News)

Companies that join EV100 make a public commitment to fast-track EV uptake in one or more of the following areas by 2030:

    • Integrating electric vehicles into corporate fleets

    • Requiring that vendors and service providers use electric vehicles

    • Encouraging customers and staff to drive EVs by installing charging infrastructure

“EV100 will use companies’ collective global buying power and influence on employees and customers to build demand and cut costs,” says Clarkson. “The members being announced today see the business logic in leading a faster transition and addressing local air quality issues in their markets. They are setting a competitive challenge to the auto industry to deliver more EVs, sooner and at lower cost.”

The first 10 members of EV100 represent highly visible brands in a range of industries across several countries: Baidu, Deutsche Post DHL Group, Heathrow Airport, HP, IKEA, LeasePlan, German retailer Metro AG, Pacific Gas & Electric, Unilever and Swedish utility Vattenfall. All have committed to converting their vehicle fleets to electric vehicles and/or installing EV charging infrastructure by 2030.


Above: A look at Deutsche Post DHL Group's "StreetScooter" electric truck delivery fleet (Source: Charged)

By setting out their future EV purchasing plans, these companies will send a strong market signal to automakers, which should lead to economies of scale, making electric cars more affordable for everyone more quickly.

“As one of the world’s leading IT companies, we are committed to sustainability across our business operations,” said Wang Lu, Vice President of Chinese tech giant Baidu. “We have already made significant progress in promoting low carbon electromobility. We hope that other Chinese companies will follow our lead.”

International leasing company LeasePlan is committing to electrifying its fleets, with the objective of achieving net zero emissions by 2030. “Our ambition is for all employees to be driving electric cars by 2021,” said CEO Tex Gunning. “Over half the cars on the road today belong to companies. Making the transition to an electric fleet is one of the easiest ways for businesses to help tackle climate change.”


Above: A look at the 10 founding companies of the Climate Group's new electric vehicle initiative, EV100 (Source: The Climate Group)

Swedish power company Vattenfall will also be electrifying its corporate fleet. “Replacing our whole 3,500-car fleet with EVs in the coming five years, working with our customers to deploy charging infrastructure, and building northern Europe’s biggest connected charging network, are three examples of actions we are taking,” said CEO Magnus Hall.

The German postal service, Deutsche Post DHL, has actually developed its own electric vehicles under the StreetScooter brand - 2,500 are already in service, and 2,000 more are to be deployed by the end of the year.

Perhaps the most visible brand among the 10 charter members is big-box retailer IKEA, which has long been a champion of sustainability. The company’s stores not only feature solar panels on their roofs - some sell panels and batteries as well. As part of the EV100 initiative, 355 IKEA stores in 30 different markets will switch entirely to electric transportation.


Above: A Tesla Model S charges at one of IKEA's electric vehicle charging stations in Calgary, AB, Canada (Youtube: Ariell Xavier Arevalo)

“The initiative concerns our own vehicles at the department stores and offices, but it also includes the partners who take care of our home deliveries,” said IKEA's acting CSO Pia Heidenmark-Cook. “Moreover, we will install charging pods at all department stores to encourage both our employees and customers to switch to electric vehicles.”