This article was first published in ACT News.
Nationwide, cities are grappling with how to best reduce transportation emissions, better public health and lower government spending. The electrification of city fleets presents an attractive proposition that has the potential to address all three concerns.
However, for cities of all sizes, the cost of transitioning municipal fleets to electric vehicles (EVs) and installing the accompanying charging infrastructure has often been identified as a primary barrier to adoption.
“The clean transportation revolution is not a distant vision for the far-off future — it’s a reality staring us in the face, and it’s happening here in Los Angeles and cities across the world,” said Mayor Garcetti in a press release on Tuesday.
In an attempt to counteract this problem, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that 19 cities and two counties throughout the U.S. have formally launched the Climate Mayors Electric Vehicle Purchasing Collaborative. These 21 municipalities signified this launch with a commitment to purchase 376 electric vehicles, representing approximately $11 million in electric transportation-related investment, within just the first year of the Collaborative’s creation.
“The clean transportation revolution is not a distant vision for the far-off future — it’s a reality staring us in the face, and it’s happening here in Los Angeles and cities across the world,” said Mayor Garcetti in a press release on Tuesday. “Through this innovative platform, Climate Mayors are sending a powerful message to the global car market: if you build electric vehicles, we will buy them.”
Electrification Coalition Partnered as Technical Adviser
Developed in partnership with the Electrification Coalition (EC), the newly launched online portal www.DriveEVFleets.org will aggregate the unprecedented cooperation of cities leveraging their buying power to offer a one-stop platform to make cost-efficient purchasing decisions. Providing fleet electrification expertise as the Collaborative’s technical adviser, the EC will centralize important data and best practices on how to buy, lease or contract service of electric vehicles, as well as display a host of vendors for the acquisition of charging infrastructure. In addition, Sourcewell will be a partner by providing the main mechanism to support the transition of city fleets to electrification.
Climate Mayors EV Purchasing Collaborative Founding Cities
The platform offers a multitude of vehicles and charging infrastructure options that is open to all cities, with access to case studies, best practices, and other important tools cities need. The portal is unique because all vehicles will have a capital lease purchasing option and will soon offer service contract options to help cities reduce the costs and administrative burdens. With the financing and leasing options, www.driveEVfleets.org can provide a pathway for cities to capture the federal tax credit of up to $7500.
As the figure shows below, transitioning fleets to electricity can have a significant effect on meeting a city’s climate goals. Transportation is now the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, making the Collaborative’s effort an important tool to reduce carbon emissions by accelerating the transition of city fleets to electric vehicles. It may not only help to transform our nation’s city fleets, but it could also help provide a highly-visible proof of concept to drive consumer adoption. Nationally, each plug-in could cut the CO2 footprint by more than half when using a full battery electric vehicle.
National Averages of Vehicle Emissions and Sources of Electricity
Source: U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center
In addition to lowering emissions, transitioning municipal fleets to electricity will diversify their fuel sources and help to reduce cities’ dependence on oil for their transportation needs – particularly critical for American cities, as 92 percent of the U.S. transportation system is powered by oil. Unlike gasoline, EVs are powered by domestically-generated electricity which is also diverse in source – as shown in the figure above – providing a power or fuel source that not only tends to be stable in price, but is also relatively resistant to events happening overseas.
In addition to lowering emissions, transitioning municipal fleets to electricity will diversify their fuel sources and help to reduce cities’ dependence on oil for their transportation needs
“By providing those cities with the right tools to make EV purchases and acquire charging infrastructure it will be more efficient and affordable for cities nationwide to make this shift, a critical step towards reducing our oil dependency and meeting the goals of fulfilling America’s Pledge on climate change. The EC believes the development of this Collaborative will be a catalyst to accelerate the transition of city fleets to EVs, reducing emissions, reducing our dependence on oil, and saving taxpayer money,” said Ben Prochazka, Vice President of the Electrification Coalition.
Electric Vehicles are Shared Commitment
Tackling nationwide problems like emissions, public health and oil dependence requires a coordinated solution. The Collaborative is a strong first step in that direction from a group of mayors that, despite running diverse cities, all share a common goal of improving the lives of their citizens in a fiscally responsible way.
The seeds for this new program were planted at a roundtable session during the May, 2016 Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo, which took place in Long Beach, California. Cities including Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, San Francisco and several others came together to meet with several automakers and EV-charging equipment companies to begin the discussion as to how multiple cities could secure competitive pricing and ease the procurement process for EVs. The cities all agreed the transition to EVs needed to be a focus, and they were eager to drive the market forward.
At first only light-duty vehicles will be available under the program, however this sector represents the largest total vehicle segment for city fleets and require the least individual vehicle-by-vehicle specifications, making it the ideal place to begin transitioning to electrification. Over time, as the program matures, medium- and heavy-duty options will be added.
As cities celebrate this large-scale commitment to electrification for their fleets, the mayors believe that this Collaborative will encourage other municipal leaders to join the effort.
The Collaborative creates a paved pathway for cities of all sizes and fleet needs to smoothly and cost-effectively transition to electrification – helping America maintain its stated climate goals from the Paris Climate Agreement and diversifying our transportation sector.