8 net zero strategies for government fleet operations

net zero strategies

If all fleet vehicles in the U.S. were electrified, it could dramatically reduce carbon emissions and save the federal government more than $16 billion over the next fifteen years. Transitioning to clean energy to power vehicles would make further reductions.

The benefits are clear: transitioning government fleet operations with a goal of net zero results in reduced air and noise pollution, decreased greenhouse gas emissions, and lower maintenance costs. Yet, the adoption of EVs as part of net zero strategies remains low.

About a third of fleet managers say that they have no EVs in their fleets. Half of those who do say that it's less than 25%. To meet net-zero targets, government fleet managers will need to employ proactive strategies to accelerate the process.

Net zero strategies for government fleets

Net zero strategies must lead the charge and take center stage to manage the transition to fleet electrification. Here are eight strategies from leaders at McKinsey and Accenture.

McKinsey recommends these three strategies:

  • Conducting fleet segmentation
  • Developing transition roadmaps
  • Executing fleet transition plans

Accenture recommends these five:

  • Prioritizing strategic importance
  • Exploring financial mechanisms
  • Conducting readiness assessments
  • Leveraging cross-departmental expertise
  • Phasing net zero strategies

Let’s examine each of these in detail.

1. Conducting fleet segmentation

Conducting a detailed assessment of the current vehicles, use cases, and charging capabilities is crucial to strategically segment the fleet. Fleet managers should thoroughly analyze the make-up of existing vehicles, purpose, mileage, fuel efficiency, and maintenance costs. This establishes a baseline for comparison to electric models. It also facilitates determining priority vehicles for early electrification based on the use case.

Understanding daily mileage and home base locations makes it possible to calculate optimal charging placements and infrastructure upgrades needed to support an EV transition. Continual benchmarking of operations before, during, and after the transition provides key analytics for fine-tuning strategies.

2. Developing transition roadmaps

A viable roadmap aligned to policy mandates charts the course for net-zero strategies. The plan should phase targets over three to five years with clear milestones tied to vehicle turnover rates.

Government stimulus funding like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which allocates $7.5 billion for zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure, should be mapped to roadmap timetables. Utility incentives can also offset costs, so early collaboration to upgrade capacity is beneficial.

3. Executing fleet transition plans

With sedans, SUVs, and light passenger vehicles comprising about a third of government fleets, these present a logical first phase for electrification. They have lower mileage use cases, such as doing administrative tasks or local site visits, so range anxiety is reduced.

Piloting EV adoption on these vehicles in regions with readily available public/private charging establishes a proof case. It also prompts upgrading protocols and training workers, which are critical steps to minimize disruption.

Maintaining and publicly sharing detailed data on vehicle performance builds confidence and staff competency in managing a scaled transition.

4. Prioritizing strategic importance

Fleet electrification must be in a position of strategic importance. The transitions must be viewed with a broader lens, beyond just sustainability. Adoption of zero-emission vehicles requires broader policy goals that include transportation, infrastructure, and energy.

5. Exploring financial mechanisms

Despite the higher upfront costs of EVs compared to gas vehicles, the five-year total cost of ownership is cheaper due to lower fuel and maintenance expenses. However, absorbing initial costs during procurement strains budgets.

Federal and state incentives like point-of-sale rebates and grants can help. Governments can also pursue cooperative purchasing agreements or lease vehicles through third parties.

6. Conducting readiness assessments

Beyond determining needs and use cases, government entities must also evaluate readiness. A comprehensive assessment of fleets, infrastructure, maintenance, and workforce must account for every phase of the net zero strategies for optimal integration.

Timetables for adoption will guide a phased approach to training and education programs to ensure workforce readiness.

7. Leveraging cross-departmental expertise

Successfully transitioning fleet operations to electric power relies on expertise across multiple government departments. For example:

  • Infrastructure engineers provide insights on charging equipment sizing and placement, while IT specialists help integrate advanced energy management systems.
  • Fleet mechanics need training to maintain electric drivetrains, and workers must adapt to new vehicle technology.
  • Procurement officials develop replacement schedules in line with budgets.

Convening a cross-functional team to provide broad input, adjust protocols accordingly, and coordinate key phases of the transition is invaluable.

8. Phasing net zero strategies

As newer EVs replace aging gas vehicles, phased charging station construction and grid upgrades prevent power bottlenecks. Gradually training police, fire rescue, waste management, and other fleet operators on EV best practices and new protocols enables adaptation.

Linking these strategic phases creates a stable transition while accommodating budget availability, net-zero targets, and priorities.

Sourcewell can help with net zero strategies

Whether you need EV procurement, net zero consulting, charging infrastructure, telematics, or other accessories, Sourcewell offers cooperative purchasing agreements. These ready-to-use agreements are competitively sourced and leverage the bulk buying power of 50,000 government and education agencies.

With Sourcewell, you can accelerate the procurement timetable, streamline the procurement process, and work with industry-leading companies in a more cost-efficient manner.

The electrification of fleet vehicles can save city leaders and public fleet professionals money and time—and accelerate the progress to net-zero emissions in government fleets. Is your public fleet ready to transition to electric vehicles? See how Sourcewell can be a trusted partner in your EV journey.