The deployment will include vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt (pictured), Ford Fusion Energi, and Nissan Leaf.  Photo courtesy of GM

The deployment will include vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt (pictured), Ford Fusion Energi, and Nissan Leaf. Photo courtesy of GM

The City of Atlanta is deploying 50 battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles as part of a $2.7 million demo project with Vision Fleet. The fleet deployment aligns with the city’s plan to reduce vehicle emissions by 20% by 2020. Mayor Kasim Reed’s has said he wants Atlanta to be one of the nation’s leading cities for sustainability.

The Atlanta City Council unanimously approved the project this week, and Charlie Bloch, Vision Fleet’s business development manager, said he expects city officials to sign the contract within two weeks.

The contract is for two years, with three two-year renewal options. The full eight-year term of the contract would include monthly payments, Bloch said.

The financing structure of the contract bundles the expenses of purchasing, fueling, and maintaining the electric vehicles into a guaranteed rate that's a lower than the cost of conventional vehicles, according to a city release. Vision Fleet will help determine which vehicles should be replaced with the electric models and provide operational support to reduce the cost of ownership.

The vehicles will include EVs, such as the Nissan LEAF, and plug-in hybrid models, such as the Chevrolet Volt and the Ford Fusion Energi. Cars will be distributed throughout the city’s fleet based on the needs of each department.

Vision Fleet previously worked with the City of Indianapolis on a similar project to deploy 425 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. This project, spearheaded by the mayor without city council approval, led the council to sue the city earlier this summer.

Kelly Helfrich, program director for Vision Fleet, said she believes the Atlanta City Council approved the project because, despite the political controversy surround the Indianapolis contract, the results were positive.

“The Indy operation was a real success in the last year and a half of operation,” she said. “The numbers in that regard speak for themselves.”

In a report prepared for the Indianapolis City Council, Vision Fleet stated that the city’s first 135 vehicles deployed under the project were performing even better than expected. Vision Fleet charges the city per mile driven, with incentives for more efficient driving. This means better performance can result in more savings to the city.

When asked about Indianapolis police officers’ earlier complaints about secure rifle storage in the vehicles, Helfrich said the company will work directly with user departments to make sure they get the vehicle they need.

Atlanta will roll out the new vehicles by the middle of first quarter of 2016.

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Thi Dao

Thi Dao

Former Executive Editor

Thi is the former executive editor of Government Fleet magazine.

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