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Spotlight: Loblaw’s Ride and Drive summer event

Earlier this summer, Loblaw Companies Limited hosted its first Ride and Drive event to showcase some of the latest fuel-efficient vehicles to staff and in particular, its fleet drivers. With about 500 drivers across Ontario, the event was an opportunity to educate about new technology and the greener vehicle options available on the market.

The event was held in the parking lot of Loblaw’s largest corporate office in Brampton and attended by six vehicle manufacturers. Vehicles available, included TDIs and electric vehicles (EVs). Fleet drivers had one-on-one time to ask questions and then take models like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt out for a quick test-drive.

“Fleet drivers are busy and it was a good way for them to get a hands-on feel for what they liked, didn’t like and choose their favourite vehicle,” says Loblaw Fleet Manager, Rebecca Moorey.

The company’s 2013 fleet selector will offer a few different options compared to the 2012 vehicle roster. Although EVs won’t be offered this time around, it was important for drivers to experience them because of its potential to become an option in the future.

“The reaction to the EVs was very positive. Many employees and drivers hadn’t seen or even driven one. They’re just fun, good-looking and functional vehicles,” Rebecca says. “When you turn them on, you don’t even know that they’re on!”

To determine which vehicles are chosen to be in Loblaw’s fleet selector, they consider fuel economy, but also cargo capacity, resale value, safety rating, capital cost and overall cost to operate. These criteria, especially the environmental ones, have made positive changes to the fleet selector in the past. For example, one less fuel-efficient vehicle was removed  and now drivers have the opportunity to choose vehicles that offer TDI clean diesel technology with improved fuel-efficiency and better resale value.

“Making these changes is just the right thing to do if we want to set an example,” says Rebecca. “The fleet industry has changed so much and is constantly evolving. We want to stay ahead of the direction it’s going.”


©Rebecca Moorey, Ride and Drive Event / Loblaw Companies Limited

 

The educational and interactive Ride and Drive event was such a success that Rebecca says it won’t be the last. With almost 150 employees in attendance, they plan to host one at least every other year.

After drivers test-drove vehicles, they were asked to participate in a short survey. It asked staff to rate the vehicles, describe which ones would meet business requirements and determine if an EV would be a good choice if offered down the road. Results showcased popular choices like the Volskwagen Golf TDI, Ford Escape and Volkswagen Jetta TDI, while the positive feedback for EVs showed it might be an option for a future fleet selector. Along with the survey, the vehicle technology information provided by manufacturer reps was made available in staff lunch rooms and photocopy areas for those seeking to learn more about the use and functionality of these vehicles in their everyday lives.

“All in all it was a fun event for employees that gave them the opportunity to learn and get hands-on experience with emerging vehicle technology. The event helped us to see our vehicles differently and what we’ll use in the future. With education comes awareness and then of course, making responsible choices.”

Interested in learning more about sustainable transportation for your workplace and fuel-efficient vehicles like EVs? Check out Living Planet @ Work’s tools and WWF’s Life with my EV blog series.