With many municipalities adopting climate-focused orders, government fleets are swapping internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles for carbon neutral ones. Here are a few departments who have made recent vehicle procurements that will help cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Boulder City, Nevada
The Boulder City, Nevada, Police Department is exploring alternatives for its aging fleet, embarking on an electric vehicle (EV) pilot program. The pilot comes as the department notes waitlists for ICE vehicles that are nine- to 12-months-long. The department has 23 patrol vehicles with model years 1999 through 2015 that need to be replaced in the coming years. Some of those vehicles will be replaced with the EV pilot, which includes two Tesla Model Ys, two Tesla Model 3s, and one Ford Mustang Mach-E. The majority of the funding for the vehicles comes from American Recovery Plan Act funds, while less than 2% will come from city council-approved funds.
The department has already taken delivery of two Model Y vehicles, according to a press release.
“The initial price on the electric vehicles is slightly higher than a traditional police interceptor, but fuel and maintenance savings over time make the true cost to own much less than a new Ford Interceptor,” said City Manager Taylour Tedder. “Because these cars are equipped with 360-degree cameras, the city won’t need to spend as much outfitting the cars with cameras. Our objective is two-fold: the safety of our officers and to make sure all available officers are on the roads and visible to our residents.”
The Fredericksburg, Virginia, Police Department is growing its fleet with the addition of hybrid vehicles. Late last month, three 2021 Ford Police Interceptor Utility Hybrid vehicles were introduced to the fleet, with five more expected next year.
In a press release, the department stated that the vehicles will bring significant potential fuel savings, improved performance, and reduced carbon emissions, when compared to traditional ICE police vehicles. The hybrid battery-powered capabilities also reduces idling demands.
The city commissioned Virginia Clean Cities (VCC) to examine the benefits of switching to a hybrid fleet. According to the study, the annual patrol vehicle mileage ranges from 6,533 to 8,327. The police department's fuel costs average is $1.53 per gallon for gasoline, while electricity is 9.7 cents per kWh with very low volatility due to Virginia's regulated electricity sector. For comparison, $0.10 per kWh equals about $1.00 per gallon of gasoline.
VCC also found that when running air conditioning and heat, the cars benefit from an idle-reduction strategy. In a hybrid vehicle, the engine programming allows the engine to idle less because the battery can power the police radio, computer, climate control, and other functions that keep an ICE vehicle's engine running when it is stationary. The average patrol vehicle consumes 663 gallons of gasoline annually, half of which is consumed while idling. VCC found that the 39 patrol vehicles idling generate 138 tons of CO2, consumes more than 13,833 gallons of gasoline, and costs the department $21,165 in fuel expenses.
The study also found that a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, petroleum use, and air pollutants is possible from transitioning to an electric or gas-hybrid fleet. The replacement of gasoline vehicles with hybrid vehicles results in an estimated 62% lifetime reduction in petroleum use and a 62% lifetime reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from these vehicles.
The Newport, Oregon, City Council approved funding for the purchase of two 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning Pro pickup trucks for the police department. In the current year budget, the department was appropriated $109,182 for the purchase. However, the 2023 pricing for the vehicle showed a 16.14% increase in pricing, according to the city manager report. The city council approved an additional $16,006 for the purchase at a recent council meeting. The funding will cover the purchase of the vehicles, as well as the outfitting by Wireworks LLC in Salem, Oregon for the lights, computer, and other emergency outfitting and markings for the vehicles.
This year's city budget also has about $61,000 carried over from 2021 to buy a hybrid all-wheel-drive vehicle of an unspecified make for the police department, according to the Newport News Times.
The Cotati, California, Police Department put the first electric police patrol vehicle into service in Sonoma County. The Tesla Model Y was built at the automaker's Fremont facility, not far from Cotati. The purchase follows the city council’s commitment to greenhouse gas reductions, including recent action to prohibit new gas stations in Cotati, switching all municipal electricity use to Sonoma Clean Power Evergreen 100% renewable energy, numerous energy conservation lighting and motor retrofits, and moving the city’s vehicle fleet to an all-electric fleet, according to a press release.
“Cotati is one of the first cities in California to put a fully equipped electric police patrol car into service. Our police fleet was an obvious place to prioritize, as these vehicles idle and drive extensively, with an overall efficiency of 9 miles per gallon. Even with the higher initial costs of purchasing the car, it’s less expensive overall with gas and maintenance savings. We are happy to help lead the way to a healthier gas-free future with electric patrol cars that refuel on electricity from Sonoma Clean Power Evergreen that saves our residents money over the life of the vehicle,” Cotati Mayor Mark Landman said.
Assuming a gas price of $3.50 per gallon, the total cost of ownership is less than the smaller and less expensive police patrol cars that it will replace. In addition to the gas savings, the total cost of ownership is lower because of less frequent brake changes, and no smog testing or any gasoline engine related maintenance, the press release explained. Additionally, the residual value of the vehicle is projected to be significantly higher than the comparable gas vehicle, allowing the City to reinvest more funds back into the community when the vehicle is retired.