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Scores of Cities, Counties Commit to Electric Fleet Future

More than 140 cities and counties in the United States have pledged to purchase more than 2,100 electric vehicles by the end of next year, a move that lends more credibility to the alternative fuel technology.

Dozens of cities and counties from across the nation pledged to purchasing hundreds of electric vehicles and buses by the end of 2020.

The Climate Mayors Electric Vehicle Purchasing Collaborative announced that 142 cities and counties from 38 states have committed to purchasing more than 2,100 EVs by the end of next year.

The collaborative leverages the buying power of its dozens of member cities to better negotiate fleet vehicle purchases. It will apply that same approach to work through the bid process for electric school buses, hoping to transform those fleets as well.

Fleet vehicles are heavily used and represent “a profound opportunity” for cities to transition to emissions-free vehicles, said Ben Prochazka, vice president for the Electrification Coalition, an EV advocacy group and a partner with the Climate Mayors EV Purchasing Collaborative.

Having cities add electric cars and other vehicles to their fleets helps not only to accomplish sustainability goals, but also to familiarize people with the concept of an electric car as more residents begin to see and experience them in their communities, say supporters.

“They demonstrate to consumers, and normalize to consumers, that EVs are both the technology and transportation of the future and something you can buy right now,” said Prochazka.

“And if it’s meeting the operational needs of a city, most consumers are much more likely to think it will meet their own operational needs on a daily basis,” he added.

City workers are consumers, and getting behind the wheel of a city-owned electric car is often a great way to get them first-hand experience of EVs, said Prochazka.

“You better believe that the biggest champions of electric vehicles are those who drive and own them,” he added. “That’s going to include the people who drive them on a daily basis for work. We see this as something that has sort of a snowballing effect, both on the consumer market, and the way that cities are making their purchasing decisions.”

The move taken by the second annual Climate Mayors Summit in Honolulu on June 27 could save a million gallons of gas, as well as add some $75 million in purchasing power into the electric car market, according to the Climate Mayors EV Purchasing Collaborative.

More than 1.2 million EVs have been sold in the United States since 2011, with more than 112,000 sold in this year alone, according to Veloz, a California-based advocacy organization which tracks EV sales. 

“The clean transportation revolution is not a distant vision for the far-off future — it’s a reality hitting the streets of Los Angeles and cities around the world,” said L.A. Mayor and Climate Mayors Founder and Co-Chair and Eric Garcetti, in a statement. “By pooling our purchasing power, Climate Mayors are sending a powerful message to the global car market: if you build electric vehicles, we will buy them.”

Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.