Fleet Sales to Drive EV Growth



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Sunday August 25, 2019 2019 Fleet Sales to Drive EV Growth  Back in 2006 there wasn't much available on the EV Market.  The EV1, RAV4-EV and EV+ were gone and the Tesla Roadster was still a couple of years away from production.  That was the year that ZAP introduced the Xebra.  Shortly after the launch of the Xebra, I met with ZAP CEO Gary Star at their headquarters in Santa Rosa, CA.  Gary said something to me that day which really struck in my mind.


"The best way that local governments can help the EV industry is to go out and buy electric vehicles for their Fleets".

During the earlier push for EV Sales this had helped boost sales to some extent.  Sales of course were very limited as supply was almost non-existent and some vehicles, most notably the RAV4-EV and Nissan Altra, were sold only to fleets for most of their life.  The RAV4-EV was eventually sold to the public in 2002-2003 at the very end of the car's production run.  Cities like Beverly Hills and Newport Beach each had 10 electric vehicles in their fleet while Santa Monica and Los Angeles had quite a few more.  The other big buyer of electric cars was the Utilities like LADWP, Southern California Edison, SMUD in Sacramento and SDGE in San Diego. 


After these cars were dropped from sale many of these cars, which were pretty much all leased, were returned to the manufacture and often sent to the crusher.  Both Honda and Toyota allowed lessees to renew the lease on the cars for a time and many of the cities and utilities did that for a while, but eventually they were returned to the manufacturer who either disposed of the vehicles or used them for parts.

Now many of the cities have a very limited number of EVs in their fleet.  For example I thing Beverly Hills has one or two NEVs in their fleet but no other plug-in cars.  Even though they have some Ford C-Max vehicles in the fleet they are the regular hybrid not the Energi plug-in Version.  Santa Monica is doing much better.  According to an article in the Santa Monica Daily Press the city has 120 EVs in their fleet which represents about 15% of their vehicles.


Santa Monica joined a group of other cities last year to form the Climate Mayors EV Purchasing Collaborative.  The object of this collaborative is to get together to create discounts for large group purchases.  The original 21 cities agreed to purchase a total of 376 vehicles for their fleets over the first year.  Other cities have joined this group which now numbers 142 cities nationwide with a total commitment to purchase 2,139 plug-in vehicles.  Beverly Hills is one of the cities that recently signed into the agreement so maybe we will start to see plug-in cars enhancing their fleet.


By moving their fleets to electric vehicles these cities are helping fight global warming while improving air quality.  To get an understanding of how much impact this can have the Federal and Local government fleets add up to about 890,000 vehicles with another 177,000 vehicles owned and operated by the US Military.  


It's still a drop in the bucket compared to the approximately 269 million vehicles in the US but when you consider that only 361,307 plug-in cars were sold in the US last year it is clear that by adding plug-in cars to their fleet city and state governments can make a significant impact on the number of electric vehicles being currently being sold by the automobile manufacturers.


Fleet sales can have a big impact on the number of vehicles that are being sold each month.  I applaud the cities who  have already signed on to the Climate Mayors EV Purchasing Collaborative and hope that we see many more cities sign on in the near future. 


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