De-Carbonizing Motor Trade Deliveries – A Drive Green Study

Being as green as possible is what we do

At Drive Green, our policy has always been ‘if there is a greener way to do something, then that is how it should be done’. As a result, we have created an exceptionally green business, with almost everything we do being free of any carbon costs.

“Almost everything we do at Drive Green is without any carbon cost, and always has been”

One area where we have struggled to decarbonize is the carbon cost of our vehicle deliveries. These have previously always come to us delivered on a diesel-fueled car transporter. To date, we have offset the carbon cost of these deliveries by planting trees. However, as a business, I want us to strive towards being carbon neutral in everything we do, with offsetting being what we do in exceptional instances only.

As a result, over the last six months, we have undertaken a study to see if there is another practical way of managing our deliveries without the need for diesel fuel and to assess the financial implications of using alternative delivery methods.

“We want to show the rest of the motor trade through our in-practice example that it is possible to reduce the carbon cost of vehicle deliveries greatly.”

At the start of the study, I hoped we could show the rest of the motor trade that decarbonizing their deliveries is possible and financially viable (although I expected this would be a logistical and organizational challenge and more expensive).

The Problem Currently

The issue we have currently is that delivery trucks rely on diesel. This is likely to be the position for quite some time, and most large car transporters will likely be diesel trucks even into the next decade. The electrification of these larger niche vehicles is probably a way off still, although hopefully, the haulage industry will start to take steps to be greener soon.

In the motor trade, most, if not all, deliveries (both to and from a car dealership) come on these trucks. This is how the haulage business operates, and deliveries in this way are both convenient and easy and a relatively low-cost option (at least, that is the current perception in the motor trade).

“The issue is that currently, car transporters are diesel, plus they are convenient to use for car dealers.”

Like most green measures, the issue with decarbonizing deliveries is apathy, with convenience and ease coming first, and cost, with businesses always pursuing the lowest-cost way of doing anything.

I hope that our study can show other organizations in the motor trade that, with minimal cost impact and acceptable costs, it is possible to reduce the carbon cost of their electric car deliveries greatly.

The Study

Over the last six months, we have tried to switch from as many diesel-fueled deliveries as possible to electrically driven deliveries.

“Over the last six months we have tried to make as many of our deliveries electrically driven as possible, and monitored the cost of this, as well as calculating the carbon savings.”

This hasn’t been 100% of our deliveries as there are still so many organizations from which we acquire our stock, for which we need to use their delivery service.

There are also some instances where, due to location or even time pressures, we have used a more convenient delivery service because, as a business, we are still required to operate effectively to survive, and sometimes, presently, we have to make these decisions.  (Don’t worry; we will still be planting trees to cover these deliveries’ c, carbon costs.)  There is also the issue of labour, as not using convenient delivery services requires extra man-hours and staff, and that is not always available in the short term or when you immediately need it.

What we have done

Nonetheless, over the last six months, we have done what we can to operate effectively as a business and still have as many carbon-free deliveries as possible. The following are the results of what we have achieved.

“Logistically there is more to consider, but we are hoping our experience can show the rest of the motor trade how easily carbon free deliveries can be achieved when selling EV’s”

We have used a driver-based collection and delivery rather than delivery trucks where possible and practical. As all our cars are electric, we consider the electric driving part carbon-free (our charging and the public rapid chargers used are renewable energy powered). Then, the drivers, either on the way there or back, are using public transport (which, again, we will consider carbon neutral for this study due to the shared use of public transport.)

Logistically, it requires more organization as we need to consider public charging the cars on route, public transport connections, and times, plus allowing for delays and unpredictability in drive times and public transport.

“As the more time has passed and the more practice the team had in driven EV deliveries, the easier the task has become.”

As time progressed over the six-month period, the logistics and planning side (plus the resistance from delivery drivers) became easier, and this has shown in the results we have achieved.

The Results

The study involved 146 deliveries during this time, and we have been looking at CO2 and cost savings/increases, as well as practicalities and what we have managed to achieve in terms of the %age of deliveries that we were basically fairly easily able to do.

Practicality and Logistics

We all know that dealing with staff and relying on them to do something harder or different from how they already do it can be met with resistance. Luckily, we have staff who are engaged with the business’s mission to be as carbon-neutral as possible, so we have their support.

However, getting them to work harder, do more, and face more complexity is still challenging.

“Month on month, it has been getting easier for the staff, and month on month, we have been increasing the percentage of carbon-free deliveries we have been able to achieve as a result.”

However, the study has shown how we are managing to do more and more carbon-free deliveries month on month, thanks mainly to staff engagement, getting more accustomed to deliveries taking place in this way, and embracing the challenges it presents. Like anything, it becomes easier the more you do it, and given time, it is going to be possible to get to 100% carbon-free deliveries, assuming we have the labour resources to do so.

We conducted this study without adding any additional resources or staffing. We achieved this with what we already have and with minimal change.

Amount of Carbon Cost Free Deliveries Achieved so far

As you can see from the graph, we have steadily increased the number of carbon-free deliveries we have been capable of over the last six months. After only six months of the project, we are already up to nearly 50% carbon-free deliveries, which is amazing and better than I expected.

“After 6 months we have managed to get our get our Carbon Free deliveries up to 42% of all our deliveries”

On this basis, I hope we can increase this by approximately 5% per month until we get very close to 100% within the next 12 months.

This shows on a logistical basis what is easily achievable and hopefully can be duplicated easily by other motor trade organizations with their existing resources, and their EV deliveries.

Cost Implications / Savings

When I started this project, I thought it most likely would dramatically increase our delivery costs due to the labour time required with all the public transport and the cost of public transport.

To my surprise, half the cost of a truck transporter delivery has worked out.

Based on the average per-mile delivery cost of all our deliveries over the last six months, our carbon-free deliveries cost only £1.08 per mile, including the public transport and the charging required. In contrast, traditional trucked deliveries cost us an average of £2.17 per mile (labour, fuel, vehicle costs).

“Electrically driven deliveries have halved the delivery cost of these vehicles, compared to traditional truck deliveries.”

In just the last six months of the trial, and only getting up to about 40% of our deliveries done in this way, it has still saved us £5913 in delivery costs compared to if we had all our stock trucks delivered.

This is a notable saving, hopefully enough to help engage the interest and action of less eco-focused motor trade businesses.

CO2 Savings

How much CO2 and pollution we are saving is ultimately what it is all about, and because we have managed to do so many of our deliveries carbon-free now, there has been a considerable carbon saving.  The fact we have been generally trying to do the longer deliveries carbon-free has meant that we have cut our carbon cost of deliveries down by nearly 50% in just the first 6 months of the study.

“In 6 months we have managed to almost halve the carbon cost of our deliveries.”

In total, we did 5607 miles without using trucks for deliveries, which saved a total of 897 kg of CO2, which equates to 43% of the carbon output of our study’s deliveries.

This is a huge saving, especially given that we are only 6 months into the project, and I predict we could get to 70% in the next 6 months and then hopefully 100% within the next 12 months.

This is an amazing result and hopefully, a strategy that can easily be adopted by other motor trade retailers who are keen to reduce their carbon impact.


I am thrilled by the results of this study and the progress we have made in reducing the carbon cost of our deliveries, but I am also surprised by the financial cost savings.

In 6 months, we have cut our carbon cost of deliveries by 43%, completed 33% of our deliveries carbon-free, and we are now up to 40% of our deliveries not involving a diesel truck.  Add on to this that we have saved almost £6k in costs, with our carbon-free deliveries now costing half of what a truck delivery costs, and we have what I think is a very compelling case for the motor trade to start trying to follow our example and deliver their EV’s carbon-free.

“This study has hopefully proven a very compelling case for delivering EV’s carbon-free.”

Our task is now to promote this carbon-free technique to other decision-makers in the motor trade, hoping that they will be encouraged to implement this sustainability measure in their organizations.

NOTE: For simplicity’s sake in this article and study we have considered renewable energy EV charging to be carbon neutral, and public transport.  Whilst we recognize that is not fully the case, both are currently as close to carbon neutral as possible, with negligible impact, and therefore for clarity of message and simplicity we have referred to our driven and public transport deliveries as carbon-free. European Environment Agency figures have been used when calculating the carbon cost diesel fuel.

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July 3, 2024

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