Metro Supply Chain Group to deploy six electric trucks in 2021 with more to follow

One of Canada’s leading supply chain solutions providers is taking the first step towards fleet electrification, confirming today the purchase of six electric trucks to be deployed in Vancouver and Montreal in 2021, and at least another six in Spring 2022

Metro Supply Chain Group, headquartered in Vaughan, Ont., is in the business of warehousing, order fulfillment, contract packaging and moving things from point A to point B safely, quickly and, now, more cleanly than ever before. The supply chain solutions provider confirms exclusively to Electric Autonomy Canada that it is now the proud purchaser of six electric trucks set to be delivered in October, 2021 and plans to purchase at least another six vehicles in Spring, 2022.

Three of the heavy vehicles will be supplied by Lion Electric Co., while the other three will procured from BYD. The purchase order in excess of $2 million and the deployment locations — so far Vancouver and Montreal — have been selected to provide the company with insights into the performance of the trucks in all types of climates, and in both urban and suburban settings.

“Over the last several years, Metro Supply Chain Group has made millions of final mile deliveries across Canada for major retailers. We were an early adopter in using electric vehicles to deliver white-glove, big and bulky items, so fleet electrification is an area we’re really passionate about,” explains John Fahidy, Vice-President of Transportation for MSCG in an email to Electric Autonomy Canada. “We’ve always embraced a ‘first in field’ philosophy when it comes to innovation and performance, so we’re excited to be among the pioneers in zero emission vehicle applications as part of our overall sustainability activities across the company.”

The news marks the company’s largest EV purchase to date, but they do have previous experience with electric trucks and vehicles. This phased electric truck purchase represents two per cent of its overall fleet of roughly 350 vehicles. While not a tsunami of change, it is an encouraging first step that signals that Metro Supply Chain Group — with over 70 operating sites in North America and Europe — is serious about being a zero-emission transportation fleet.

“In Metro Supply Chain Group’s mission, the core value is really caring about the planet and always looking for ways to reduce our consumption and reuse and recycle as much as we can,” says Stéphane Gagné, the company’s head of technology and transportation, in an interview with Electric Autonomy Canada. “Following their first Canadian winter, if the vehicles perform as planned, you should expect us to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles.”

Ripple effect

Established in 1974, Metro Supply Chain Group has built a reputation as a go-to supply chain solutions provider with clients ranging from big box stores to the Canadian military. The company’s deliberate step into a ZEV trucking future is a move that will have a wider impact in part due to the cachet of its clientele.

“We asked [ourselves] how can we transition to more electric vehicle deliveries to eliminate carbon emissions?” says Gagné, who projects that Metro Supply Chain Group will complete roughly three million parcel and large deliveries this year. Each electric truck will work seven days per week, travelling between 150 and 200 kilometres per day. Metro Supply Chain Group hasn’t committed to a charging infrastructure provider yet, but Gagné says the company is well on the way to solidifying that element of its fleet electrification plans.

For Metro Supply Chain Group the decision to start its progressive transition to electric was the result of a well thought-out business argument that encompassed everything from total cost of ownership to company mandate to always meeting client expectations. It was far from a simple decision, but ultimately the company made a commitment to where it believes the future of transportation is heading.

Paying forward expertise

The choice to overhaul an entire fleet is daunting, to say the least. If nothing else it’s a financial commitment that, if not properly executed, could be a serious problem for many companies. However, with the right strategy and the proper guidance, many businesses are pivoting to zero-emission fleets with great success. And some sage advice from industry stakeholders who have already joined the electrification wave is always helpful, too.

“The first thing is to make sure the technology is available and is capable of meeting the heavy-duty requirements of the business application it’s meant to be used for,” advises Gagné. “The second is to seek expertise or advice. You don’t buy an electric truck (along with its charging infrastructure) the same way you buy a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) truck. The third thing is you need to really understand the economics of electric vehicles — maintenance costs are different, energy costs are different and acquisition costs are different.”

But perhaps most important, all companies taking steps toward fleet electrification need to recognize electric truck technology is moving at a very rapid pace and it is likely that an encounter today with an electric truck won’t resemble previous and, possibly, future experiences with them.

In conclusion, says Gagné, it’s all about being open to new approaches: “Make sure that you have a strong business case for the transition. If you go in with the economics or the financial approach of ICE vehicles you will be very quickly disappointed, which should not be the case.”