California's Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has placed its biggest electric vehicle order yet as the agency seeks to electrify its entire fleet.

Caltrans, which has about 1,200 vehicles in its fleet—mostly ICEs—has ordered 399 Tesla Model 3 electric sedans, which will add to the roughly 80 fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles currently in its fleet. 

The agency operates 54 Toyota RAV4 Prime PHEVs, 15 Chevrolet Bolt EVs, 11 Nissan Leafs and one Ford F-150 Lightning. Caltrans also has 37 zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell Toyota Mirai and one hydrogen-powered sweeper in its fleet.

The order placed with Tesla is the largest known EV fleet order from a US government department at either the federal or state level. At least that's what a Caltrans spokesperson told Drive Tesla Canada about the agreement, noting that the value of the purchase is more than $18 million. The Caltrans representative also confirmed that all 399 vehicles are the base Tesla Model 3 RWD variant.

Gallery: 2022 Tesla Model 3

The largest known deal until now was New York City's purchase of up to 250 Model 3 sedans for NYPD announced last year. However, that agreement saw the vehicles being ordered over five years.

In comparison, Caltrans has already taken delivery of 236 Tesla Model 3 sedans, and expects the remaining 163 units to be delivered by January 1, 2023. Once Caltrans receives all 399 Model 3s, it will have converted 43 percent of its entire fleet to all-electric vehicles.

The California Department of Transportation told Drive Tesla Canada that the Model 3 RWD offers the best value for taxpayers compared to any other all-electric vehicle approved for purchase by the Department of General Services.

Some of the criteria included safety ratings, driving range, resale value and powertrain warranty. Caltrans also said the Model 3's low fuel and maintenance costs will save both time and money as the vehicles spend more time on the road inspecting and managing California's transportation system.

Funding for the acquisition came from the most recent California Spending Plan, which earmarked $176 million for each of the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 fiscal years for Caltrans to replace its aging gas-powered fleet with zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). The funding also includes installing the necessary charging infrastructure to support the fleet.

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