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Supermarkets, department stores urged to go electric

Major Australian supermarkets and department stores are falling behind in the race to electrify their fleets and need to "hit the accelerator" on eco-friendly transport, according to a new report card issued by Greenpeace.

The analysis of 33 companies operating in Australia, released on Thursday, named Swedish furniture giant IKEA as the leader in zero-emission vehicles, followed by financial institutions Bank Australia and Westpac, Unilever and Australia Post.

But the report gave companies across the board an average mark of just three out of 10 for efforts to adopt electric cars, trucks and vans, and industry experts warned many companies could be missing significant savings delivered by the new technology.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific senior campaigner Violette Snow said many of the companies analysed in the report had failed to make commitments to adopt electric vehicles or renewable power and could lose business over the issue.

"Customers, employees and investors are increasingly calling for companies to show leadership on tackling climate change," she said.

"It's time for Australian corporates to get racing on electrifying their fleets and cleaning up Australia's transport pollution."

Greenpeace ranked each business on their commitment to electrify cars, vans and trucks and use renewable energy, as well as progress towards their goals, and advocacy for environmentally friendly transport.

IKEA topped the list for its pledge to use only electric vehicles for deliveries and renewable energy by 2025, as well as offering free electric vehicle charging at most of its stores.

Bank Australia, in second place, was lauded for electrifying its fleet by 2025 and for phasing out loans for petrol cars the same year; while Westpac, in third spot, scored highly for its promise to adopt zero-emission vehicles by 2030.

However, supermarket chains Woolworths and Coles ranked outside the top 10 with scores of 2.8 and 2.5 out of 10 as neither made commitments to electric vehicle adoption, although Woolworths was trialling two electric trucks in Sydney and Melbourne.

Car rental firm Avis earned the worst score in the rankings, below Myer and David Jones, neither of which had made electric vehicle or renewable energy pledges.

"We hope this serves as a starting gun for these companies to hit the accelerator on greening their car and trucking fleets," Ms Snow said.

Australian Electric Vehicle Association national president Chris Jones said many of the large companies in the report were not only disappointing some customers but missing out on savings offered by cutting petrol and diesel costs from their budgets.

"If you're in the delivery or logistics business, you're mad not to try to electrify your fleet," he said. "The savings opportunities are enormous.

"I could understand if companies aren't dong it because the vehicles they need aren't available or they'll take time to be available... but with (tax) changes it's very attractive to have electric vehicles in your fleet."