- Photo courtesy of Depositphotos

Photo courtesy of Depositphotos

Hennepin County, Minn., could reduce emissions and save money by downsizing and electrifying its light-duty fleet, a recent report from the University of Minnesota found.

Preliminary findings from the first phase of the study showed that the county could reduce its fleet of low-use vehicles and convert its light vehicles to battery-electric and hybrid cars. Currently, sedans and large passenger vehicles average about 5,100 miles annually, while light-duty trucks average 6,200 miles annually. In this conversion scenario, the county would replace 28 conventional gasoline-powered vehicles with 14 electric sedans for a cost savings of more than $300,000.

The report also recommended car-sharing partnerships (using short-term rentals from an outside provider) as well as ride-hailing services to supplement fleet trips. In this case, the county could retire 28 gasoline sedans and use proceeds from the sale of these vehicles for the car sharing partnership.

The county has a fleet of 1,229 units, of which 772 are rolling stock. Of these, 201 are cars and SUVs.

Hennepin County already has two battery-electric vehicles and 16 hybrid-electric vehicles in its fleet, according to Jay Baldwin, sr. administrative from fleet services. Its next steps are to determine where additional charging infrastructure is needed and purchase EVs as fleet vehicles are retired, with a focus on placing them in carpool services. The county has applied for funding for six Level 2 dual charging stations from the recent Volkswagen settlement funds grant solicitation, he added.

The university has entered into the second part of the project with the county. Staff will build on the recommendations of the first report, including evaluating operational and infrastructure changes necessary to convert gasoline sedans to alternative technologies, exploring ride-sharing platforms, and researching options for larger vehicles. This is estimated to be completed by Dec. 31, 2019.

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