5 Ways Governments Can Benefit From Electric Vehicle Fleets

 In Fleet Management

As North American governments look for ways to reduce air pollution and combat climate change, all eyes turn to the transportation sector, which accounted for 26% of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2014.

While a municipality cannot change the cars citizens drive, local governments can certainly do something about the cars employees drive in municipal fleets. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of gasoline are consumed every year even just from:

  • Police presence at a protest site
  • Parking authority vehicles circling the block in search of offenders
  • Park department vehicles making the rounds
  • Transportation services for city officials

Municipal fleets play a significant part in a city’s transportation emissions, and the switch to electric vehicles and hybrids is the easiest way to address the problem. Governments from Georgia to New York City and British Columbia have already begun the transition, suggesting the solution will work no matter what political party happens to be in power.

Here are the five ways governments can benefit from adding electric vehicles and hybrids to the municipal fleet.

P.S. we put together a short PDF cheatsheet that covers the main points from this article. You can download that PDF here.

1.) Cost Savings

Tesla Model S in LAPD fleet

Los Angeles has the highest number of plug-in vehicles on the road in North America, so government officials did not have to sell citizens on the technology. When Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the city would lease 160 EVs and create the largest municipal plug-in fleet in the U.S., he cited the extraordinary savings in operating costs.

According to L.A. officials, the savings would amount to 41% for the vehicles that switched from gas engines to battery power. Compared to $0.37 for conventional city cars, EVs would cost $0.21 to operate per mile. Because of favorable incentives for plug-in vehicles in the state – which can be rolled into leases — upfront costs would not ding city coffers in the short term, either.

(As for the pricey Tesla Model S and BMW i3 L.A. officials showcased during the announcement of the new fleet policy, both vehicles were on loan from the automakers and wouldn’t cost the city a cent.)

2.) Air Quality Control

Smog in the city

The worst effects of air pollution are invisible, but city residents have palpable trouble breathing when particulate matter is elevated. Anyone in living in congested downtown areas will notice the smell and oppressive air conditions when city vehicles are idling nearby. This quality-of-life issue can be addressed by every municipality by putting cleaner-operating EVs into service.

Of course, “fresh air” is much more than something nice for residents to breathe when they are at home. According to research, 3.3 million premature deaths can be attributed to poor air quality, which makes pollution one of the world’s most dangerous forces. City governments that underestimate the impact on public health may end up paying a much greater price in hospital and healthcare services later.

Even hybrids make a big difference in this department. The stop-start technology that eliminates fumes during idling will work in any city vehicle.

3.) Smarter Budgeting

BMW i3 for lease

Los Angeles chose to lease plug-in vehicles with purchase incentives rolled into monthly payments. This technique allows municipal budget planners to free up funds for other capital investments. Any municipality with doubts about better budgeting should take a quick poll of residents. Would they rather have:

  1. Fewer potholes on city streets
  2. More public transit options
  3. Lower chances of a power outage or
  4. City ownership of gasoline vehicles

Any city or county government looking for a way to shore up infrastructure should investigate the fleet incentives available for leased EVs and plug-in hybrids. Fiscal responsibility and improved public services are popular initiatives in every party and region; it’s what voters everywhere expect governments to do competently.

4.) Reducing Noise Pollution

Air pollution and loud noises

The trend of urbanization around the world has made loud cities even louder. Municipal fleets can be part of the solution to this growing problem. Non-emergency vehicles – including those operated by traffic police, parks department employees, and city detectives – can make the rounds noiselessly running on electric motors.

Silent EVs create an instant impact on communities plagued by noise issues, especially at night. City fleets that want to make the biggest impact in the noise department serve citizens best by exploring electric buses and trucks. An electric bus program launched in California’s Coachella Valley is one of the first of its kind in the U.S., and Philadelphia’s public transit authority is following suit.

As federal governments look for ways to reduce emissions as a nation, programs that swap the noisiest diesel engines for electric power will continue having incentives attached to purchases.

5.) Meeting Emissions Goals

City of Vancouver

Reducing emissions is a priority in every major metropolis. The leaders of North American cities have made truly bold environmental goals in recent years. Here are some of the most extraordinary:

  • Vancouver officials vowed to have the cleanest air of any major city on the planet
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio expanded the OneNYC plan to cut emissions 80% by 2050
  • Seattle plans to be carbon-neutral by 2050
  • Atlanta aims to reduce GHG emissions 40% by 2030

Each of these municipalities plans to meet the goals by deploying electric vehicles and hybrids in municipal fleets. In New York, the de Blasio Administration is replacing 2,000 gas vehicles used by city employees with plug-in models, which will slash fleet emissions 50% by 2025.

In Seattle, where transportation emissions account for the bulk of the city’s GHG pollution, the city’s EV initiative extends from the public sector outward. City trucks running on diesel will convert to renewable fuel while non-emergency vehicles in municipal fleets will convert to plug-in models. Charging station infrastructure will be accessible by Seattle residents, easing the crossover in the private sector.

How Governments Make the Change

Every municipality hoping to create a better quality of life for citizens should explore the benefits of adding EVs to the fleet mix. Knowing how to access available incentives, budget operating costs, and understand how to deploy electric models is essential when making the switch, and this knowledge is only possible with data from real-world use.

FleetCarma’s EV Suitability Assessments does this work for fleet managers considering an investment in plug-in electric vehicles. Whether you need predictive modeling or EV fleet telematics to get a better ROI on plug-in investments, data is the fleet manager’s only hope to avoid waste in the crossover to cleaner vehicles. Taxpayers deserve nothing less.

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