Indianapolis City Fleet Will Be First In US To Be All Electric (Video)

5 years ago by Inside EVs Staff 27

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard Seen Here With Some Plug-In Choices For His City (AP Photo/Rick Callahan)

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard has had enough of the United States’ dependency on oil, and this is one time a political figure is not all talk.

On Wednesday Mr. Ballard signed an executive order mandating that the city replace its current sedans with electric vehicles, with both fully electric and plug-in hybrids.  As for heavy vehicles (both public and on private contract to the city), which do not currently have a plug-in option, the Mayor will phase in snow plows and fire trucks that run on compressed natural gas.

What Is Good For Portugal (73 miles of EV range and a top speed of 90 mph) Is Not Good For The Race Town Of Indianapolis

The only place a viable option for getting off gas does not currently exist is for the police force, as the Mayor says there is not yet a suitable plug-in hybrid police car.

The changeover to electricity and CNG will take some time to complete, as the city’s plan is to replace the gas vehicles as they end their useful life-cycle.

The last non plug-in or CNG vehicle is expected to be retired around 2025.

“The United States’ current transportation energy model, driven by oil, exacts an enormous cost financially and in terms of strategic leverage,”  said the Mayor at the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee.  “Today I am proposing to make Indianapolis a leader by example on this national and international issue. Although oil-based transportation will remain a staple for a while, new technology available now is making ‘energy choice’ a real alternative.”

In total, the city fleet has about 500 non-police vehicles and 200 heavy vehicles, and plans for about 50 plug-in buys per year in order to make the gradual transition.

Chevrolet Volt Based Vauxhall Ampera Cruiser's Back Seat Limitations Also Make This Option Not Viable To Replace Police Daily Drivers

The big payoff for Indianapolis will eventually come when the police car switch is able to happen (the city has about 2,000 police vehicles), as they record an enormous amount of miles per year, per vehicle.  In total, an electrified police fleet has the potential to save taxpayers $10 million in gas per year according to the mayor’s office said.

“Our police fleet consumes over two million gallons of gas a year. If the city could get a plug-in hybrid police car that averages 40 miles a gallon, and still provide all the necessary features needed by our officers, we could save taxpayers six to ten million dollars a year; and again reduce our dependence on oil.”

The Indianapolis area is already one of the nation’s leading EV-adoption locales, and features over 200 public charging stations already, with the city working with private business to add many more.

We can only hope more cities follow Indy’s lead.

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27 responses to "Indianapolis City Fleet Will Be First In US To Be All Electric (Video)"

  1. TAP says:

    I hope taxpayers are OK with the city spending approx. 50%-100% more per vehicle. I guess they are doing really well down there.

    1. Brian says:

      I was thinking along similar lines. It’s great to save fuel money, but right now the overall equation may or may not add up. I really hope they are considering the extra up-front cost when they talk about saving tax-payers’ money. If they don’t, there could be public backlash, which in turn would be detrimental to EVs.

    2. kdawg says:

      Lifetime costs are cheaper. Businesses (and governments) are better at looking at life cycle costs vs. reacting to sticker shock.

      1. Brian says:

        You seem very certain of this fact. I’m not so sure that it’s true for all cases. Businesses are good at life cycle costs. I have my doubts about governments. If a business repeatedly makes poor choices, it will go under. Governments tend to just raise tax rates, cut other services, and move on. I hope that Indianapolis does make a sound decision.

        Although it’s also worth noting that one of the mayor’s goals is to use domestic energy, not just to save money. Sometimes it’s worth spending a little more to do what’s best for your people.

        1. kdawg says:

          Certain of which fact.. the cost or governments?

          1. Brian says:

            Sorry. I kind of touched on a few things.

            You said “Lifetime costs are cheaper”. I’m not so sure about this. I drive a Leaf because I believe it is a positive step away from foreign energy sources. It also happens to run on clean energy (a combination of solar panels on my roof and wind power I buy from the grid). I did look at total cost of ownership, and I’m not convinced I will save money. I got the Leaf anyway because there are other benefits.

            1. kdawg says:

              Are you familiar with the Kiplinger calculator, where they did a study on the Volt that showed the 5 year cost to be the same as a Chevy Cruze? I think the savings are there, and don’t understand why people that drive 12K miles or less that are looking at leasing or buying new cars aren’t lined up to lease/buy a Volt (also if you only need 4 seats and don’t need a truck/etc. obviously). The sticker shock is big if you are buying, but if you do the math, it’s less shocking or more likely in your favor. Personally, I have lower electricity rates and higher gasoline rates, so the math really works in my favor. But even using the national averages like Kiplinger did, it’s pretty much even-stephen after 5 years. I’m sure there are situations out there where electricity is crazy expensive, so the payback period (i hate that phrase), is longer. But for most that look at TLC, it should be a no-brainer.

  2. ClarksonCote says:

    Why isn’t a Volt police car viable? They have variants in NYC and abroad. Is it just a cost issue?

    1. ClarksonCote says:

      Ah, I see a picture caption lists it’s the back seat issue. I would still think that you could replace many police cars with a two seat option. Heck, put a cage between the two seats, and you can transport two agitated prisoners without worrying about them wreaking havoc on each other.

      Or, maybe a Volt with three seats in the back will be coming soon?

      1. Brian says:

        But seriously, how often are more than two people shoved in the back of a police cruiser? Would it really be so bad to call for another car at this point? (Especially because the officers will be outnumbered).

        1. Jay Cole says:

          Even now, where you see plug-ins being used as “police vehicles” they are actually police-assist vehicles…not the meat and potatoes/foot soldier cars we typically associate with service cars.

      2. scottf200 says:

        You cannot really put grown men in the back of the Volt. No legroom mainly. Yes, I’ve done it with moving my seat forward and if they were like 5’9″ or less.

        Also I don’t think police chase much anymore for any length of time or high speed. Too much danger for everyone else and resulting lawsuits. Use airwaves.

        1. Bonaire says:

          Yo – they’re criminals (well, allegedly). Put ’em in the trunk. You don’t need a limo to transport a perp. 🙂

    2. kdawg says:

      I think I may also have to do with being able to maintain hi-speeds in excess of 100mph for long periods to keep up with criminals. Now, they could buy Tesla’s which would allow them to outpace almost any criminal, and they’d have room in the back seat for them. But I don’t see them buying 2000 Model S’s anytime soon 🙂

      1. Future Leaf Driver says:

        Helicopter and radio trumps model S, lol.

        Just radio ahead and road block them!

        1. kdawg says:

          I’m still waiting for the first action movie with a Tesla Model S chase scene. Maybe Jason Statham driving one, after crashing his Audi. Elon should pull some Hollywood strings to make it happen 😀

  3. ClarksonCote says:

    I don’t think many cities realize how much money they could save by switching standard police cruisers to Volts, at least for traffic control. Every cruiser I’ve ever seen that is parked with its lights on while officers direct traffic has its engine running.

    A plug in like the Volt would drastically reduce these idling emissions that are so common with police vehicles.

    1. Brian says:

      Good point! You don’t really need a plug-in, per se, for this though. Many hybrids could standby without idling.

      1. ClarksonCote says:

        True. I was thinking that it’s the plug-ins that have the performance/acceleration a cruiser may need. Actually, I probably should have said electric drives… Volts, Nissans, etc.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          Just spit-balling, but I would suggest that the upcoming Fusion Energi would probably be a suitable police car, it is dimensionally feasible.

          The 40K pricetag I think is a little pricey for the mainstream, but for a police car it wouldn’t factor at all.. Logging over 100,000 miles per year is not uncommon for cruisers, so payback/price parity would come in under 2 years, then it would be all profit.

          1. Brian says:

            That would be awesome to see! I hear Ford’s Energi line has respectable acceleration. Any idea how it might compare to a Crown Vic?

  4. Brian says:

    If they really want police cruisers to use PHEVs, maybe they’ll consider adding charging stations to the hideouts next to highways. That way, the cars can be charged while they wait for the next guy going 90+ down the highway 😉

    1. kdawg says:

      They should use inductive chargers so they can take off immediately.

  5. Alaa says:

    Use a Tesla as a police car. I am sure Tesla Motors will make you a special car based on the model s. It will beat any v8 car you have now.

  6. scottf200 says:

    Imagine the savings in oil changes (EV or PHEV run on even 50% gas) and brake jobs (slowing down via regen like L(ow) in the Volt for max regen)!!!

    Via Motors cost calculator show long term savings like fleet manager (spreadsheet jockeys) woud be doing. http://www.viamotors.com/vtrux/life-cycle-savings-calculator/

    Personally I think PHEV work trucks are going to rock this debate.

  7. Bonaire says:

    What do Fleet owners do with their fleet drivers?

    – they give them fuel cards

    Unless the fleet is strictly BEV – the drivers of plug-in hybrids who also have fuel cards will NEVER PLUG IN. Just ask GE drivers of Volts and Energi models how often they plug in. ZERO times.

    Governments like this must allow for charge-back of electric that a driver may use at home or elsewhere. And don’t give them Chargepoint or Blink cards – they’ll charge at $4/hour charging stations and leave them plugged in overnight and account for dozens of dollars of charge to the taxpayer.

  8. Herm says:

    You have to incentivize the fleet drivers.. give them a certain gas budget every month and let them keep as cash what they dont use. Watch how often they plug in!