Photo courtesy of City of Austin

Photo courtesy of City of Austin

The City of Austin, Texas, plans to add 330 plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) to its fleet by 2020. This will help bring the city closer to its 2007 goal to make the fleet carbon-neutral by 2020. 

"Austin has always had a long-standing commitment to sustainability and has been at the forefront of building programs and processes that minimized the impact to the environment," said Jennifer Walls, CAFM, deputy fleet officer for the City of Austin. "Due to the limited number of electric options available at the time, the focus was on alternative fuels."

Currently, 78% of the city's vehicles are alternative fuel, electric, or hybrid and 58% of all fuel issued by the fleet is compressed natural gas (CNG), propane autogas, E-85, or biodiesel. 

This year, city council passed a resolution to determine the benefits, timeline, and feasibility of increasing EV adoption. The study, conducted by the Rocky Institute, Vulcan, Inc., and Electrification Coalition, identified 330 vehicles that could be replaced by EVs. Walls said the vehicles identified were in a predominantly administrative function, but span across multiple departments, including Public Safety Utility, Community Services, and Support Services. 

The Austin Monitor reports that the city will purchase a mix of battery-electric and hybrid-electric vehicles through a municipal lease program, with the city taking ownership at the end of the three-year lease term. Reduced fuel and maintenance costs are expected to save the city $3.5 million over 10 years, even after factoring in the $1.7 million cost of installing charging stations for every vehicle.

According to the plan, the city is expected to purchase 35 EVs this fiscal year, based on service duty, usage, and location. The city is still determining which EVs to purchase, but Walls said that the city hopes to begin rolling out vehicles early summer 2017.