This is the first article in a regular series that will highlight the innovative ways some of Scotiabank’s clients are doing their part in cutting carbon emissions.
“It’s the little efficiencies that add up to the company doing its bit for the environment,” Pride Group Logistics (PGL) confides on its website, which is exactly how the Mississauga, Ont.-based, family business is going about lowering its carbon footprint. Pride’s “little efficiencies” derive from using enhanced technologies, having a relatively new fleet of vehicles, and undertaking regular maintenance and driver training to lower fuel consumption.
The company isn’t, however, focused solely on its own carbon footprint. Pride also hopes other companies in the industry that are looking to improve their emissions targets — whether it be fleets, or companies looking to move their products — will see it as a one-stop shop for electric vehicles (EVs).
“The biggest thing that separates us from a lot of our competitors is that we operate primarily brand-new equipment. Whether it’s trailers or trucks, everything on the road is two years or newer,” says Aman Johal, Vice President of Pride Group Logistics.
PGL is a division of Pride Group Enterprises (PGE), which got its start in 2010 when Aman’s father, Sam Johal, President, and uncle, Jas Johal, Vice President, established a business selling trucks. A little more than a decade on, the company operates businesses in equipment rental, leasing, logistics and sales in 28 locations across North America and employs more than 1,000 people.
Swapping out vehicles every 12 to 24 months, instead of the four to five years many logistics companies do, allows Pride to leverage the latest technology provided by the manufacturer, Johal said. The original equipment manufacturers — Pride buys mainly Volvo, Freightliner, Kenworth, Peterbilt and International — are constantly evolving and are on the cutting edge of development in the industry, whether it’s safety, environmental emissions, or tracking technology, he said.
In addition to incorporating the most up-to-date technologies, Pride maximizes fuel efficiency through adhering to regular maintenance schedules and driver training, putting in place a no-idling policy, governing speed limits, and ensuring tires are at the right pressure. The company uses telematics, such as GPS, OBD (onboard diagnostics) and dash cams, to train and monitor drivers, looking for hard or frequent breaking and then accelerating quickly, or turning too sharply, which waste fuel.
However, it’s Pride’s investments in the future of electric vehicles that could help the North American trucking and delivery sector significantly lower its carbon footprint. Some key investments the company has made in the past couple of years, which will help it meet its target of 100% EVs in the not-too-distant future, were two large scale EV orders and an investment in the infrastructure needed to run them under Pride EV, a new subsidiary that was set up to protect future generations by reducing the environmental impact of the transportation industry.
In 2020, PGE announced it had reserved 150 Tesla Electric Semis with the option to increase that to 500. The news release noted that the first units would be deployed across all business divisions with priority given to states and provinces with the most welcoming electric commercial vehicle environment, such as California. In 2021, Pride also announced an agreement to purchase 6,320 C-Series all-electric vehicles for the last-mile delivery sector from Cincinnati-based Workhorse Group Inc., with deliveries through 2026.
EVs will evolve, and we want to be prepared for that when it happens. We want to be the industry experts or leaders in electrification.
— Aman Johal, Vice President of Pride Group Logistics
Pride EV offers world-class electric medium and heavy vehicles with full-service support to help ease the process of assembling a sustainable fleet. Currently, the company has charging stations in Mississauga and Milton, Ont., and in Montreal, and is building another in Fort Erie, Ont.
“Our vision in Phase 1 is to outfit our own terminals and rental facilities across Canada and the US with charging stations. We were probably one of the first companies to have a high volume of electric vehicle chargers installed at our facilities,” Javed Nadeem, Vice President, EV Infrastructure, said.
He acknowledges, though, that electric vehicles are not yet ready for the long-haul logistics business. “The hope is that as technology improves and the battery range lengthens, these stations will be used for long-haul carriers,” he said.
Being ahead of the curve on EVs means the company is spending more upfront, and the costs have been compounded by a year or more delay on the delivery of vehicles due to the parts shortage. However, Johal contends Pride’s return on investment (ROI) will be the strategic relationships and industry know-how it gains over time.
“If we were to play it safe and wait five years, we could probably get all of this equipment at a lower cost, but we would lose out on the experience of generating our own research and data from operating electrical vehicles,” he said.
“We’re not looking at dollar-for-dollar return today, but more of what we are building for the future. EVs will evolve, and we want to be prepared for that when it happens. We want to be the industry experts or leaders in electrification.”
Reducing carbon emissions
As part of its commitment to reduce carbon emissions, Pride EV contributes 1% of revenue to carbon removal through its membership in Stripe Climate, an organization that aggregates funds from more than 250,000 forward-thinking businesses in 39 countries to help scale emerging technologies that can help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Pride EV is also a partner of the Pembina Institute, a non-profit think-tank that advocates for strong, effective policies to support Canada’s clean energy transition and is a go-to source of energy expertise, providing research, analysis and recommendations to inform policies and practices related to energy.
Pride’s financial partners have also played a role in helping the company stay ahead of the EV curve, Johal said. For financial partners there are a lot of unknowns — a lack of knowledge and real-life experience with electrical vehicles — which translates into high risk, he said.
“Scotiabank has been very open to financing these vehicles and we’re very appreciative of that.”
“We are proud to support Pride Group Logistics as they implement plans to lower their carbon emissions,” said Stephen Bagnarol, Executive Vice President, Canadian Business Banking, Scotiabank.
“We applaud our clients who are embedding ESG approaches into their operations to help advance to a more sustainable future, and we are committed to providing financing to further drive their sustainability initiatives.”