30 U.S. Cities Seek Combined Purchase Of 114,000 Electric Cars

7 months ago by Eric Loveday 25

LAPD”S P85D

And Garbage Trucks!

Last year in the United States, 159,139 plug-in vehicles were sold. This year, that figure could jump through the roof of this newly announced plan becomes reality.

The plan calls for some 30 U.S. cities to come together to ask automakers for a cost and feasibility study for acquiring 114,000 plug-in vehicles.

The vehicles the cities are looking to acquire range from regular cars, to police cruisers to garbage trucks and even buses.

Major cities including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles (mayor Eric Garcetti is the coordinator of this joint effort) and others are on board.

As Bloomberg reports:

“Dozens of U.S. cities are willing to buy $10 billion of electric cars and trucks to show skeptical automakers there’s demand for low-emission vehicles…”

Matt Petersen, Los Angeles’s chief sustainability officer, stated:

BYD electric bus

“No matter what President Trump does or what happens in Washington, cities will continue leading the way on tackling climate change.”

No orders have been place, as the initiative is in the very early planning stages, but the idea is to submit a joint order request, then invite manufacturers to begin the bidding process.

There’s a slight hitch though as some cities are requesting electric vehicles that don’t really exist right now. Vehicles such as electric fire truck and BEV heavy-duty work trucks aren’t exactly in abundance, so manufacturers will have to step up and make those vehicles or those order requests won’t be filled. Some orders likely won’t be filled for a couple of years.

Colin McKerracher, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance, commented on what an order of this magnitude means for manufacturers:

“I wouldn’t underestimate this. What automakers really want in investing in electrification, whether that’s for passenger vehicles or commercial-use vehicles, is certainty.”

We’ll close with a few quotes from some of the individuals involved in this joint effort.

Chris Bast, Seattle’s climate and transportation policy adviser:

“If you build it, we will buy it.”

Daniel Zarrilli, New York City’s senior director of climate policy and programs:

“Now more than ever there is a need for cities’ leadership on climate. We really want to send a message that there is a growing market for electric vehicles — regardless of what is happening in D.C.”

Source: Bloomberg

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25 responses to "30 U.S. Cities Seek Combined Purchase Of 114,000 Electric Cars"

  1. From the Bloomberg story: “The request to automakers went out earlier this year, initially with an order for 24,000 vehicles from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. Twenty-six other cities have since joined, including Boston, Denver, Kansas City and Houston.

    Nearly 40 automakers, truck makers, bus makers and others have responded so far, Petersen said.”

    And “Tail-pipe fumes are crucial in the fight to stop global warming. Emissions from cars and trucks became the largest U.S. source of greenhouse gases last year, surpassing power plants for the first time since 1979.”

    Also: “Now more than ever there is a need for cities’ leadership on climate,” Daniel Zarrilli, New York City’s senior director of climate policy and programs, said in an interview. “We really want to send a message that there is a growing market for electric vehicles — regardless of what is happening in D.C.”

    1. However, it would be nice to see the current list of cities on this project in full, so we could, a) Thank them, and b) Push for other cities to join in!

      Target 250,000 Full EV’s, plus another 250,000 PHEV’s, for large vehicles like Fire Trucks, etc.

      1. Anthony says:

        I agree, is there a website or something to track involvement and commitments? I would like to tweet to my local governments to participate but only if they haven’t joined already.

        1. SJC says:

          Good to see them aggregate their purchases. This could have been done long ago, better late than never.

  2. HarerAve says:

    The energy Gang on Green Tech Media had a great talk with Ryan Popple from Proterra about electrifying bus fleets.
    Electric vehicles already beat Diesel on cost and reliability

    https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/electric-buses-are-going-to-dominate

    1. realistic says:

      I like Proterra and I like Ryan Popper, so this is hardly a swipe at him, his company, or your point.

      But what he (and most people) are missing in the economic contest is cost of capital. “Conventional” busses still win economically because of that. Municipal procurements are frequently finded by Bond Issuances so the CoC is very well-understood in the calculation.

      E-busses are purchased largely because of additional federally-backed subsidy in excess of the mass transit subsidies that help put them over the hump. Right now you will see very few municipal agencies buying E-busses without that boost.

      FWIW I have ridden the Louisville Proterra busses and they are great.

  3. SparkEV says:

    If they’re going to be PHV instead of BEV, many or most of them will never be plugged in. Lazy city workers won’t bother with the hassle of plugging in when they get gas paid by the city.

    But I’m not hopeful of this effort when the rhetoric is only from climate change folks. They need to get someone who doesn’t give a damn about climate change on-board if this is to succeed. Benefits of EV is far more than just about minuscule effect on climate change.

    1. JIMJFOX says:

      Always been a climate change/science believer but you’re right, they’re looking at this from the wrong angle. CC is driven by generation, not consumption; they should focus on inner-city air quality as the motivation.

  4. M Hovis says:

    Fire trucks! What an obvious transition! Even if the secondary generators remained ICEs for now, they are not cheap vehicles and the cost to electrify should payback in maintenance cost alone.

    School buses too. At least half of the fleets have repetitive short range trips.

    Eric Cote wrote an article years ago here on mail trucks. Though the life of the vehicle might out-live the life of the postal service.

    Lots of county inspection vehicles have already converted to hybrids.

    The list for municipalities is long.

  5. Someone out there says:

    Skeptical? How can you still be skeptical about the demand for electric cars when you see Tesla get 400k pre-orders on an electric car more than a year before production? How thick are these people?

    It’s not a matter of demand, it’s a matter of quality! Make GOOD electric cars and they will fly off the shelves. If you make just about bearable compliance cars and overprice them of course you’re not going to sell any.

    And feel free to put a little effort into a fast charging system while you are at it.

    1. Mister G says:

      All great points but 159k plug-in sold in 2016 is pitiful and shameful. Why would any gas guzzler manufacturer take plug-ins seriously? If in 2017 one million plug-ins are sold then that is great demand for plug ins.

      1. Someone out there says:

        159k is because they don’t take it seriously. They are dragging their feet as much as possible, only releasing barely adequate cars to get CARB credits. It took a Tesla to kick them in the back side and start developing proper cars which we will see the coming years but they could have done so much earlier.

  6. Someone out there says:

    I don’t see electric fire trucks anytime soon, at least not battery powered. They need the allowable weight to transport water and they need a lot of energy to pump it at high pressure. Hydrogen could possibly solve it but I’m not sure if a fuel cell stack big enough to handle the load would make sense financially.

  7. realistic says:

    Exactly the sort of thing that is fun for politicians to do: “accomplish” something for which you can only be measured by the input and not the result.

    (1) Mayor establishes “I’ll fight climate change” as an objective.
    (2) The metric of his success: how much money he spends buying electric vehicles.
    Note that in no way can any actual benefit be measured, but merely by spending the money can the mayor be claimed successful in achieving his metric. In fact, in this case merely by ASKING someone to take his city’s money he can claim some level of success: “I tried to spend your money to save the world (my actual contribution to which cannot be mneasured), but these mean guys wouldn’t take it! Elect me again!”

    Measurement against real local results is much harder and mayors hate that, and they generally seek every way they can to avoid it. Examples include:
    Get the potholes fixed within the repair budget and no new bond issuance.
    Maintain twice/week garbage pickup with no more than x% fee increase.
    Hunt down absentee delinquent owners and condemn and tear down distressed properties unoccupied more than x years.
    Etc.

    These are things with specific perfromance metrics for which the mayor and her administration can be measured. Hit or miss is pretty clear. Success can’t be measured by “I spent more money on lawyers to put tax liens on delinquent properties in the Craptown sector of the city!” It can only be confirmed by “I successfully levelled x Craptown crack houses and petty crime in the neighborhood is down y%!” (or not).

    This diversion isn’t limited to EVs and Climate. There are any number of fun “Big Idea” projects that can distract political attention from whether or not mayors are actually succeeding at their jobs.

    1. pjwood1 says:

      realistic, You know too much about finance, not to come off as slanted when you write things like this. Private industry is leading the charge on electric service vehicles. Toyota hybrids took over many taxi fleets, years ago. Deutsche Post gets it. Utilities, like Duke, get it. But apparently, you don’t see what they’re measuring. Why is that?

      It might suck for the ROE of an auto-maker to have stranded assets, and higher input costs, but if you think city managers can’t model savings from cheaper electricity and maintenance, you’re wrong.

      For useless “big ideas”, look at Michigan, today, where the Trump Train will be stopping to “make cars expensive again”.

      1. pjwood1 says:

        OK, slanted may be too strong a term, but you have skills man!! Use the force, for good.

        1. realistic says:

          PJ, I am just a grain of sand in this whirlwind like you. I’ve been driving a plug-in (Volt) for about a year, following two+ years in a Leaf. My paycheck comes (mostly) from consulting on electrification of off-road vehicles and hybrid systems for backup power (renewable/battery/diesel gen systems). During the Oil Pice peaks in the recent past I helped develop a high-efficiency APU package for busses to significantly reduce main engine idle while keeping passengers cozy (heat or AC). Nobody bought them because of… hold…. hold…. insufficient ROI, even with $4.50/gal diesel.

          I “believe” as hard as anyone here. When I’m not traveling and the weather is good I’ll visit local clients on my e-bike just to be clear. But I’ve been in the ring a long time and the answers are not as apparent as people think.

      2. realistic says:

        “Toyota hybrids took over many taxi fleets, years ago”
        That’s because the combination of their sell price at a fleet volume, fuel economy savings and high relaibility made fiscal sense. Also in many municipalities the permits were discounted for hybrids. (See NYC, San Diego, Austin, etc.) If you think fleet-level taxi operators did this out of a greater respect for Children and Other Living Things you are mistaken.

        “Private industry is leading the charge on electric service vehicles.”
        The actual fraction of conversion to EV in the private sector is de minimus, and even then is frequently spurred by available subsidy (which I’m not citicizing).

        “Deutsche Post gets it.” Sure they do. Their Electric Van program is partially supported by Electromobility Programme investments and they get breaks on permitting costs as well as upcoming emission penalty avoidance in cities. I’m not saying they WOULDN’T do it but if you think that somebody sweetening the ROI didn’t kick it over the starting line you’re kidding yourself.

        “Utilities, like Duke, get it.”
        Well, they sell electricity so they promote EVs. Even then, how many Duke EVs are there in their fleet? Their purchases have been in the low hundreds at most and whenever a buy is trumpeted or a new charging station is installed they reference a grant project that helped fund it. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the idea that they are forging ahead with significant EV purchases is misguided. If ICE vehicles are not penalized or their alternatives subsidized there is no movement on EVs at all until they get MUCH cheaper to buy.

        ROI is THE key measurement for capital purchases. Consider bar code readers with wireless communucation for delivery truck drivers (UPS, FedEx, etc.). This technology demonstrated a signifcant direct and indirect return. If EV or hybrid technology showed similar immediacy of benefit, you’d see it rolling out now. Azure Dynamics, Smith and others would be thriving. It isn’t and they’re gone.

        Finally, you’ve missed the point on “Big Ideas” initiatives by local politicians. They are a waste of time and money, and they distract the constituency from the measureable performance (or lack of it) of local officials in areas for which they are legitimately responsible. The consideration of a City Chief Executive’s performance with respect to Cabinet Department decisions on LDV fleet mileage is not relevant.

        1. ffbj says:

          Meanwhile, in the real world, cities will be electrifying the cities at increasing pace.
          More and more cities will ban diesel and gasoline engines and the benefits will be evident and immediate.

          Less polluted air to breath. Cleaner cities. It’s just a matter of time, and money and some cities will make more progress more quickly than others.

          1. realistic says:

            Absolutely true. The pace is going to be a lot slower than many think is “easily doable”, but yes.

            1. ffbj says:

              I guess you are realistic.

  8. Nicholas says:

    Austin is in this group too.

  9. Thomas says:

    Hopefully is the battery not empty when the police car is urgently needed….?

    1. Robert Middleswarth says:

      Just like hoping a gas tank isn’t empty?

  10. realistic says:

    If you are really, really an interested student, go to this event:

    Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo
    Long Beach 1-4 May

    http://www.actexpo.com/

    There are Municipal managers, planners, buyers, etc who are headed down this path (in accordance with ffbj’s optimistic perspective) that you can meet. They’ll be speaking at the conference. There are lots of exhibitors, too.

    The conference (where you’ll get to hear the various functionaries present their plans and successes) is not cheap at $750 (I’m assuming none of you are fleet buyers). I hope somebody from the insideev team can go.

    The Exhibit is cheap (relatively speaking) at $50.

    Now I know all of you are wondering if you can meet me there. I haven’t decided yet. In any case LB in spring is nice.