Public fleets across California shared updates on their efforts to curb emissions and transition their fleets to zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs). That comes as Gov. Gavin Newsom's office announced that the state achieved its goal of 1.5 million ZEVs sold in the state two years ahead of schedule. Additionally, $2 billion in ZEV incentives, part of a broader $9 billion budget, have been distributed to Californians to make the transition more affordable.
In California, ZEVs include battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCVs).
Electrifying the State's Fleet
Among the more than 1.5 million ZEVs sold in the state are 1,583 vehicles in California's Department of General Services fleet. The types of ZEVs included in that total are broken down in the chart below.
Transitioning to ZEVs in Public Fleets
Representatives from the Municipal Equipment Maintenance Association (MEMA) shared about efforts to curb emissions among public fleets around the state. Dean Tedtaotao, chairman for MEMA SoCal (representing southern Carlifornia fleets), told Government Fleet that one of the major challenges fleets in his region face is vehicle availability in the light-duty market. Fleet managers hope the selection and number of EVs in the light- and medium-duty truck market will increase in 2024.
Despite the challenges, Tedtaotao said a majority of SoCal fleets have already adopted EVs, mainly in the light-duty fleet segment, such as Chevrolet Bolts, Nissan Leafs, and a limited number of Ford F-150 Lightnings.
A great majority of public fleets in SoCal have applied for and received grant funding, increased vehicle budgets, and have purchase orders for EVs.
In northern California, a major challenge public fleets face is finding infrastructure funding. MEMA NorCal Chairman David Renschler told Government Fleet that many of the smaller municipalities don’t have the tax base to fund infrastructure projects, even with the grants that are available. Grants always have a match that needs to be provided by the agency, and some just can’t afford that portion, Renschler said. Adding to the troubles: many communities have declining property tax revenue due to home prices falling. That, in addition to reduced sales tax revenue, leaves many fleets facing budget shortfalls for the upcoming fiscal year.
Other cities have small light-duty fleets with few sedans, so they are prioritizing their electrification efforts on medium and heavy-duty vehicles to meet the upcoming Advanced Clean Fleets regulation.
As far as electrification in northern California goes, many agencies are running or starting pilot programs. This allows an agency to get a better understanding on what challenges they will face so that they can plan for overcoming those challenges.
Renschler said he's seen more electrification in the light-duty sector than the medium- and heavy-duty sectors.
"There are enough people with experience in the car sector that it seems easy to start converting car purchases to EV," Renschler explained. "If you have the electrical infrastructure already in place to install Level 2 (L2) chargers, it makes the conversion much easier. Some of the larger agencies have hundreds of EV cars with a good amount of L2 chargers in strategic locations."
Most smaller agencies and rural areas seem to be waiting until more models are available, pricing comes down, and infrastructure is cheaper.
"With limited charging infrastructure, range issues, long charge times, increased cost differentials, and limits to upfitting of EVs regarding police duty, there might be challenges that won’t get figured out for several years," Renschler said.
Who's Taking Care of Infrastructure?
In the area of EV infrastructure, Tedtaotao said SoCal fleets have various methods for managing it. Some fleet divisions are tasked with managing all that encompasses EV charger installation — such as grant funding, design, and permitting. Other fleets choose to task another department or division with handling the EV infrastructure planning, with fleet taking an advisory role.