New Electric Vehicles in the Fleet
By Rachel Darken, Administrative Assistant, & David Wermedal, Operations Clerk
Keeping our City running relies on vehicles and specialized equipment, but harmful emissions don’t necessarily need to be released into the air. For example we are aggressively replacing existing equipment with zero-emission plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) whenever possible. There are now 31 EVs in the City’s fleet, the most we’ve ever had, and many more are on the way. In 2018 we had zero.
Tyson Roessler, Fleet’s Program Manager, is responsible for purchasing the new equipment. When looking for a replacement vehicle, he always takes into account whether an electric or hybrid option is justified. In general, high quality and affordable light-duty EVs are more readily available right now than heavy-duty electric equipment. “In the next two to five years,” Tyson says, “the availability, cost, dealer network, and infrastructure for EVs should reach the point where replacing all older gas-powered vehicles with EVs or hybrids will be the norm.”
So what are some of the EVs already in our fleet, and what can be expected soon?
With 25 vehicles, Bolts make up the largest portion of our electric fleet to date. With a longer driving range (up to 259 miles on a single charge) and more affordable price, the Bolt is perfect for anyone driving frequently around the city. Fleet is in the process of replacing the pool of vehicles available to all City employees for short-term trips with Bolts. Many City departments have started using Bolts, including Engineering, Fire, Police, Streets, Parks, Public Health, Traffic Engineering, Building Inspection, and Water Utility.
Off-Road & Turf Equipment
Our fleet includes both off-road and turf utility terrain vehicles (UTVs), and we have found two great electric options to phase in that don’t compromise on power. The electric Polaris Ranger UTV has a bed that can hold 500 pounds and an additional 1,250 pound towing capacity. We have three Rangers, and Fleet and Traffic Engineering currently use these workhorse EVs. The electric Toro Workman GTX is a turf UTV being used by Parks to transport materials and complete jobs downtown.
Forklifts are used in multiple city departments, and fortunately there are some great electric options for those that can load up to 4,000 or 5,000 pounds. Fleet currently uses two of these electric forklifts, and six more are on their way to be used at Traffic Engineering and Parks.
To diversify our pool of light-duty EVs, we have six 2020 Nissan Leafs on order for the fleet. These newer models are comparable in power, range, and price to the Bolt. EVs are a perfect option for pool cars; the cars are usually taken only on short day trips, and drivers won’t have to worry about stopping at a gas station because they can charge at night.
As technology and the EV market improves, expect to see many more EVs in the City’s fleet!