INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis’ Mayor Greg Ballard signed an executive order on Wednesday that requires the purchase of plug-in hybrids or electric vehicles (EVs) for the non-police passenger vehicles in the City’s fleet, which will lead to the eventual replacement of all current models that meet those criteria with alternative-powertrain models.

In addition to the executive order, Ballard and his staff have outlined a plan that details the steps the City needs to take to achieve the goal of converting its entire fleet so its vehicles can run on a type of fuel or power source other than gasoline or diesel. The City’s goal is to have all of its sedans, other light-duty vehicles, its heavy-duty units, and its police vehicles equipped with alternative powertrain types by 2025.

Government Fleet magazine contacted the Ballard's office to find out more about this program beyond what was in the official release. Out of the 3,135 vehicles in the City’s fleet, 470 are non-police sedans, 1,957 are police pursuit and other law enforcement vehicles, 121 are fire trucks, 387 are pick-up trucks and SUVs, and 200 are heavy-duty models. Switching passenger vehicles over to plug-in hybrids and EVs would be a major change for the fleet, as the City currently operates approximately 120 hybrids, such as the Toyota Camry Hybrid and Ford Fusion Hybrid.

According to a spokesperson, Indianapolis does not currently have any compressed natural gas (CNG), plug-in, or all-electric vehicles. In terms of the return on investment, switching to plug-in hybrids and EVs would save roughly $12,000 over the 10-year life cycle of each vehicle based on the City’s current calculations.

The City hasn’t decided on any specific plug-in hybrid or EV models yet, and the spokesperson said Indianapolis is open to working with all of the automakers that offer those types of alternative-powertrain vehicles. The spokesperson added that the City anticipates taking delivery of its first plug-in hybrid vehicle early next year, depending on inventory levels and negotiations with automakers.

Beyond replacing existing traditionally fueled vehicles with plug-in hybrids and EVs, the City is also looking to work with an automaker to develop the world’s first plug-in hybrid police vehicle. The City’s goal for this program is for the vehicle to meet the needs of Indianapolis’ police force. According to the City, if the vehicle could achieve fuel economy of 40 mpg and meet officers’ needs, a fleet of them would save Indianapolis’ taxpayers $10 million per year.

The City isn’t focusing only on plug-in hybrids and EVs, though, and it’s working with various partners, such as Energy Systems Network, to convert its fleet of heavy-duty vehicles (snow plows and refuse trucks, for example) to run on CNG.

To pay for all of these updates the City plans to use normal replacement funds as current vehicles reach the end of their life cycles. According to the spokesperson, the City hasn’t received any federal funds for this program. The City generally uses available state and regional government purchasing contracts to get the best price for taxpayers but is open to using different purchasing contracts, the spokesperson told Government Fleet.

In addition to these changes, the City’s spokesperson said maintaining a fleet of appropriate size to achieve City government objectives and meet taxpayers’ needs is part of the City’s ongoing mission to manage its fleet effectively. Indianapolis’ Fleet Services Department is ranked number 21 on the 100 Best Fleets list for 2012.

By Greg Basich