A guide to the benefits and drawbacks of eco-friendly vehicles.

Hey Clippers! Dave Tucker here to keep talking about eco-friendly swaps for your lawn care business. Today, we’re tackling a big one: hybrid and electric trucks.

Despite how much time they spend in the headlines, electric vehicles (EVs) only account for about a percent of new vehicle sales in the US. But demand is growing, especially on a global scale. Most of the big automotive guys are investing a lot of money into hybrid and EV technology.

That being said, a lot of us—admittedly, myself included—tend to associate hybrids and EVs with Silicon Valley guys. The lawn care business runs on trucks, not Teslas! But there’s a growing number of EV and hybrid trucks on the market. Can you blame our fellow truck enthusiasts for getting a little curious?

So let’s dive into some of the pros and cons of using EV and hybrid trucks for your lawn care business. We’ll kick it off with a little vocabulary lesson.

What’s the difference between a hybrid vehicle and an electric vehicle (EV)?

There are a few different flavors of eco-friendly vehicles on the market.

The one that’s been around longest is the hybrid. Among the most well-known hybrid vehicles is the Toyota Prius. Hybrids have a gas tank, just like a vehicle with an internal combustion engine (ICE), but the battery is different. That battery can backcharge through regenerative braking. Any energy the vehicle generates while in motion goes right back into that battery. That extra energy is used to power the vehicle, which cuts down on its overall fuel consumption.

Next up, and most popular in the headlines, is the fully electric vehicle (EV), such as the Tesla. EVs don’t use gas at all. They run entirely on battery power, and that battery is charged up via the electrical grid. You can, quite literally, plug it into a wall, though a 110V outlet will give you a slow charge. Most folks upgrade their EV charging outlet to 220V. And charging stations are popping up everywhere.

Lastly, we’ve got the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), like the Chevy Volt. You might think of these guys as the middle ground between hybrids and EVs. A PHEV has a gas tank and a hefty battery—with a limited range. A PHEV with a full charge will run on battery power until the battery is zapped and then switch to gas.

There’s one catch with the PHEV: There aren’t any PHEV trucks on the market just yet. Rumor has it that Ford is releasing a Ranger PHEV in the next year or two. But for now, your EV truck choices are hybrid or full electric.

The benefits of hybrid and EV trucks for lawn care companies.

The leading benefits are fairly obvious, given the theme of this article: Hybrid and EV trucks use less gas. This means fewer carbon emissions and, for hybrids, better fuel efficiency. This can be a big selling point and a differentiator for your lawn care business. Customers who care deeply about the environment will definitely pay attention to your eco-friendly vehicle choices. Plus, you can save a lot of money, especially when gas prices are high. 

Speaking of money, here are two financial benefits to consider:

  • Hybrid and EV trucks may come with tax credits. Do your research, but the purchasing incentives can be pretty hefty!
  • EVs especially can be cheap to maintain. You don’t have to pay for oil changes, spark plugs, or other replacement parts nearly so often. (There are caveats to this. We’ll cover it later.)

 

EVs and hybrid trucks also tend to be quieter than their ICE counterparts. There’s a great bit from popular mockumentary The Office when one character sneaks up on another in his Prius. Onlookers wonder why the guy being ambushed hasn’t noticed the car coming his way. Oscar, an accountant, explains, “The Prius is silent if he keeps it under five miles per hour.” It’s both a stellar comedic bit and a nice perk of hybrid and electric vehicles!

Finally, on a personal note, what if you yourself are passionate about the environment? When you’re a business owner, you can make decisions for your business that support your own beliefs. Switching to eco-friendly vehicles is a powerful way to put your money where your mouth is. 

The drawbacks of hybrid and EV trucks for lawn care companies.

The drawbacks of hybrid and EV trucks fall into three main categories: Price, power, and convenience.

EV and hybrid trucks can be expensive. These vehicles become more financially accessible every year, and some folks say they pay for themselves pretty quick. But the upfront cost can be off-putting. Plus, the pre-owned and leasing options for EV and hybrid trucks may be fewer.

When it comes to power, hybrid and EV trucks do fall a little behind their ICE counterparts. They’ve still got plenty of giddyup, but their towing capacity may be a little less.

And of course, the elephant in the room: Charging. If you go with a hybrid, this isn’t an issue. But you can’t just roll your EV or PHEV truck into a gas station if you run low. You have to plan ahead and charge your trucks overnight. Do you have the space for that? And are you willing to pay an electrician for more powerful outlets? Technically, you can plug into a standard 110V outlet, but that’s a slow drip for such a big battery. You really need 220V for EVs to be a practical option.

The middle ground.

Earlier, I mentioned that EV and hybrid trucks can be cheaper to maintain. And in some cases, that’s true! No oil changes, no spark plugs, none of the wear and tear of a typical automotive motor. But there’s a catch: That battery can be mighty expensive to replace.

This is another area where you’ve gotta run the numbers yourself.

Tell me: Has your lawn care business started using EV and hybrid trucks? Are you planning to get yourself one of those Ford Ranger PHEVs next year? Share your thoughts and your experience in the comments!

Don’t forget, you can also boost your fuel efficiency by investing in CLIP. CLIP is lawn care business software with a built-in routing tool that ensures you’re always on the most efficient route. With CLIP, you never have to waste gas, battery power, or time on badly planned routes again. Schedule a demo > 

We’ll be back next time to talk about other types of eco-friendly lawn care business practices. Until then, keep clipping!

Dave

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