Electric Cars Coming To A Government Near You

May 24, 2011

It’s no secret that the current administration had planned to replace aging fleet vehicles with electric ones, since President Obama is a big proponent of electrifying the federal fleet. Reports of a 100-unit electric vehicle purchase have been circulating for the better part of a year, and we now know what those vehicles will be, where they’re going and what the government hopes to learn by rolling them out.

The General Services Administration will be buying 101 Chevrolet Volts, 10 Nissan Leafs and 5 Think City EV models, with delivery not taking place until 2012. This gives the GSA time to get a charging infrastructure in place, and gives both Chevrolet and Nissan time to catch up on consumer demand for their electric vehicles.

The vehicles will go to 20 government agencies in five cities, including Detroit, Washington, D.C., San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Agencies getting the electric vehicles include all branches of the armed forces, the Veterans Administration and the Energy Department. In support of the rollout, the government is expected to install some 100 charging stations at federal buildings in California, Washington, D.C., and Michigan.

The purchase decision was made after reviewing a wide range of electric vehicle choices. The administration specified that the vehicles had to be built in America, and all three will qualify by the time of delivery. Chevrolet currently builds the Volt at their Hamtramck plant in Michigan, while the Think City EV is built in Elkhart, Indiana. Nissan Leaf models are currently imported from Japan, but Nissan is scheduled to begin production of the Leaf in Tennessee next year.

The electric car purchase is part of the administration’s plan to cut dependence on foreign oil. Hybrid vehicle purchases for the federal fleet have doubled in the past two years, and the president has stated that all federal vehicles purchased by 2015 would use fuel-saving “advanced technology." An executive order even calls for the federal government to reduce gasoline consumption by 30 percent among federal fleet vehicles by 2020.

[The Detroit News]

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