Clean Fleets Policy

“While we often hear from our state and local leaders about the perils of climate change and the need to take action, this report reveals a shocking disregard for an existing state law requiring public entities to phase out the use of gasoline and diesel to power public vehicles,”
— Matthew Metz, Coltura Founder

Public fleets are the cars and trucks owned by states, counties, cities, ports, and other public entities.  There are more than two million vehicles in American public fleets, and fewer than 1% are electrified.

Coltura advocates for "EV First" policies, whereby public entities purchase electric vehicles (EVs) unless there are urgent and compelling reasons why only a gas vehicle will do.

Public fleets should be on the cutting edge of electrification. EVs save taxpayers money and are good for public health.  It is relatively easy for the public sector to address the financial and technical barriers to electrifying.

Advocating for electrification of public fleets is an effective way to put the issue of fuel choice and priorities in the public spotlight.

Public agencies have been historically been slow to electrify, but today electric vehicles are a prudent choice for government fleets for the following reasons:

Clean vehicles cost less than gas ones:  For many years, the cost of EVs was considered the biggest obstacle to EV “practicability.” However, recent analysis by the City of Seattle and the state of Washington have determined that EVs are less costly to operate over their lifecycle than comparable gas-powered and hybrid vehicles, because electricity is roughly ¼ the cost of gasoline per mile, and because electric vehicles require much less service. The City of Seattle determined that it would save $2 million over 10 years if it purchased 300 Nissan Leafs instead of hybrids for its passenger vehicles, and more than $3 million compared to gas vehicles.  

Suitable Vehicle Models are now avaiable or coming very soon:

Passenger cars: The 238-mile range Chevy Bolt EV, introduced in 2016, and the 151-mile 2018 Nissan Leaf EV provide sufficient range for virtually all government uses.  

Light-Duty Trucks and SUVs:   Pickups and SUVs make up the bulk of most government fleets, and until 2018, there have been no affordable pickups or SUV models. This is changing in 2018, with the arrival of the plug-in hybrid Workhorse pickup truck with 80 miles of all-electric range, and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, a plug-in hybrid with 22 miles of electric range, and the electric Hyundai Kona SUV.  Many more models of pickups and SUVs are expected to be on the market by 2020.

Medium and Heavy-Duty Trucks:  Large electric transit buses, such as those owned by Metro Transit in Washington State, are already on the market. Many new electric medium and heavy-duty models will be available over the next three years, including new delivery trucks and garbage trucks. Renewable diesel, a new product made from plants just entering the market in Washington, is a complete replacement for conventional diesel, and is an excellent low-carbon source of fuel for existing diesel vehicles. 

Over the next several years, a convergence of new EV models and lower EV prices will result in enormous opportunities for the state and local governments to comply with the law and wean themselves off gasoline. It is critical that they do so.

Each new gasoline-powered car our governments buy is a ten-year investment in oil extraction, transportation and refining, air and carbon pollution, and runs contrary to most state environmental goals.  Each new electric vehicle is an advance towards clean energy and a cooler planet.

electric bus