Because it’s the right thing to do, says the president of B.C.’s greenest courier

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Need a gift basket sent to a friend? OK.

How about a bottle of wine? No problem.

Tires? You bet.

“You name it, we deliver it,” says John Coupar, president of Novex Delivery Solutions.

The Richmond-based courier service has goods on the go down pat, with a fleet of almost 100 vehicles zipping around the Lower Mainland on any given day.

Started more than 35 years ago, Novex is now one of the largest same-day express couriers and expedited freight companies in the region, making more than 1,700 deliveries daily.

But there’s more, because this is a success story with a soul.

By the early 2000s, Novex had become a big contributor to B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions. With a growing awareness of climate change and the need to make the environment part of its triple bottom line (social, financial and environmental), Novex headed in a new direction, largely due to the vision of CEO and Owner Robert Safrata.

“[The company] started to make the shift,” Coupar says. “[The] business model was to change the paradigm around producing high levels of carbon.”

Acting on a commitment to become sensitive to the environment, in 2003 the company became the first same-day courier to use hybrid vehicles in Canada. Then in 2008, became the first courier in North America to become carbon-neutral.

Today, Novex has more hybrids than any other same-day courier, allowing it to reduce its carbon emissions by roughly 180 tons every year. It is the only courier in the province that is a Certified B Corporation, and 100 per cent of its fleet is ultra-low emission vehicles, with nearly half being hybrids.

“Specifically, the Toyota Prius,” Coupar says.

Hybrids are vehicles powered by both an electric motor and a conventional engine (gasoline or diesel), putting them ahead of fuel-only cars when it comes to savings, performance and price.

“Their reliability, their design, and their range is quite phenomenal,” Coupar says, noting Novex has 40 Toyota hybrid models in its fleet. 

And with a nod to the delivery of tires, for example, Coupar adds the Toyota Prius C’s hatchback is a great bonus in their fleet.

“It’s amazing what you can put in there.”

Coupar, who came on board at Novex 18 months ago, says he was impressed with the company’s commitment to the environment.

“Part of what attracted me to Novex was its philosophy—how it fit with my core values,” Coupar says.

This B.C. business is not alone. Statistics show that company fleet purchases account for more than half of new car sales, and the shift is clearly toward low-emission vehicles.

When considering your next company car, there are a few advantages to consider:

• Sticker shock

It's wise to dismiss the misconception that hybrid vehicles are expensive. When hybrids are compared to strictly gasoline-fuelled models, the prices are similar.

At the compact price point, the Toyota Prius C is the lowest-cost hybrid in Canada, starting at $23,790 (including freight and PDI). Although it’s true some hybrids can have a slightly higher showroom price than their gas-only counterparts, when comparing costs over the long haul, hybrids have better value.

And when you need to upgrade, you’ll still have solid value with a hybrid. This year, the Toyota Prius C won the 2017 Canadian Black Book award for Highest Retained Value – taking over the top spot in its category.

Building

  • Fuel-sippers

Because of the way hybrid vehicles work, fuel costs are lower than gas-only cars. In hybrids, the fuel-powered portion for the vehicle shuts down at different times during the operation, so savings can be substantial.

In all, hybrids use almost 50-per-cent less fuel than non-hybrid alternatives. The Toyota Prius C, one of Coupar’s favourite models, is the most fuel-efficient “gas” powered car in Canada (Fuel Efficiency Rating for the 1.5-litre four-cylinder automatic is 4.4/4.6 L/100km). The mid-size Toyota Prius V—also part of the Novex fleet—is tops in the country in its class too, rolling in at 5.5/6.0 L/100km.

  • When the rubber hits the road

In addition to fuel savings, maintenance costs for hybrids are lower than gas-only cars, with fewer oil changes required and less wear and tear.

“One of our drivers just had his Toyota in for its 160,000-kilometre service and nothing was needed,” Coupar says. “The regenerative brakes are amazing.”

The hybrid’s regenerative braking system, which uses the electric motor to help stop the car, extends the life of brakes. And most hybrids have Continuously Variable Transmissions, which typically have fewer moving parts and fewer repairs than traditional automatic or standard transmissions.

As for the hybrid battery, 15 years of sales in North America show they’re extremely reliable, they don’t fail, and are built to outlast the car. 

  • ‘It’s the right thing to do’

When Novex started prioritizing the environment, it ended up being good for business. 

“Customers notice. They say, ‘Hey, if I’m going to get someone to move these things, I want to go green,’” Coupar says. “People are much more aware of the environment.” 

Much of the company’s success is due to the decision to build a hybrid-heavy fleet, Coupar says, noting Novex is reaping the benefits in terms of savings in operating costs, carbon offsets, vehicle reliability, customer respect and happy drivers.

But the biggest advantage for choosing a hybrid in business?

“Well, we’re all breathing the same air,” Coupar says. “The major advantage is it’s the right thing to do.”