Transition to EV fleet for net zero emissions in your municipality

transition to ev fleet

Municipal fleets are significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in communities across North America. Transitioning these vehicles to electric and other zero-emissions alternatives represents a major opportunity to reduce environmental impact and promote sustainability. As technology advances, the costs and feasibility of electrifying municipal fleets improve each year. Now is the time for civic leaders to develop plans to transform their fleets.

What does the electrification and net zero emissions transition entail? Essentially, it’s systematically replacing conventionally fueled vehicles with electric versions as existing ones are retired and new ones are acquired. Electrifying light-duty sedans and trucks is the most accessible starting point, but technology will soon allow the electrification of even heavy-duty vehicles.

A successful transition reduces direct tailpipe emissions and reduces emissions from third-party providers that help operate municipal services. This holistic approach captures the full environmental benefit.

Communities can also expect other benefits, such as lower maintenance costs, reduced noise pollution, and improved public health outcomes, due to reduced particulate and other emissions.

Assessing your municipality's fleet needs

The first step that municipal leaders must take is to thoroughly analyze the current fleet inventory and uses. Critical information to collect includes:

  • Number and types of vehicles currently in operation
  • Annual mileage accumulated by each vehicle class
  • Annual fuel consumption
  • Vehicle use cases
  • Maintenance facilities
  • Vehicle retirement schedules and procurement/replacement cycles

This baseline helps uncover opportunities for electrification and enables the projection of operational requirements for an electrified fleet. For example, knowing that sedans in the fleet drive 20,000 miles per year on average allows for properly sizing EV battery capacity and range.

Fleet managers must also project long-term composition for future electrification planning. Factors like population growth and changes in service requirements will impact vehicle needs over the transition timeline. Models should account for these shifts to ensure that acquired infrastructure and vehicles enable future needs.

Setting goals and timelines

With a clear picture of the current fleet and future outlook, leaders can define the objectives and timeline for the transition. Separate goals and timelines for light- and heavy-duty vehicles allow for their different stages of EV technology maturity.

Fleet managers will want to align the transition to EV fleet to mandates or targets. Many cities, including Montpelier, Vermont, have set aggressive goals for net zero. City leaders have pledged to convert to 100% renewable energy and eliminate fossil fuels by 2030 for municipal operations.

Other communities aim to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030, with a 100% commitment by 2050. To reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030, you will need to reduce emissions by more than 4% per year.

Creating an infrastructure and charging plan

Ensuring charging infrastructure availability and capacity is crucial for successfully transitioning to an EV fleet. Municipal planners must cater to charging for government-owned vehicles and public charging for community access.

Public charging planning involves mapping community mobility patterns and locating chargers appropriately. Operationally, cities must determine if stations will be free or fee based and create systems to manage access and payment as applicable.

Another critical infrastructure consideration is coordinating electrical grid upgrades to meet charging demands without overwhelming capacity.

Engaging the workforce and community

Education will be crucial for the municipal workforce. Fleet managers will need to train drivers and maintenance teams on best practices and help ease concerns about range anxiety or transitioning to an EV fleet.

If the transition reduces the municipal workforce through efficiency gains, leaders should examine the potential impacts on jobs. Retraining or job placement assistance programs may be necessary to support affected workers in transitioning to new roles.

The fleet transition will also impact residents directly or indirectly, making community engagement essential for success. Cities should educate citizens on the environmental and economic benefits to garner their support for the change. They may have initial concerns about access, reliability, or costs that leaders must address transparently through public forums and education campaigns.

Funding the transition to EV fleet

Transitioning fleets requires significant upfront capital investment. Budget planning should consider the total cost of ownership. While EVs have higher upfront costs, lower operating and maintenance expenses typically result in lower lifetime costs. State and federal incentive programs can offset purchase costs, and utilities may provide special rates for depot charging.

Given limited budgets, most cities will take a phased approach to the transition. As existing vehicles come up for replacement on regular schedules, they can be swapped with electric equivalents. This spreads capital needs over time rather than necessitating large one-time investments.

Sourcewell can help

Sourcewell is a leading cooperative purchasing organization serving government and education agencies across North America. By leveraging the collective buying power of 50,000 organizations, it secures discounted pricing through competitive solicitations.

Municipalities can opt in to contracts for EVs, maintenance, and accessories that include telematics for monitoring and route optimization software. Contracts also have services like consulting for electrification and charging infrastructure.

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.