Biden promises slow start to electrifying federal fleet


WASHINGTON (AP) — Self-proclaimed ‘car man’ President Joe Biden has often promised to set an example by acting quickly to transform the sprawling U.S. government fleet into zero-emission electric vehicles. But efforts to help meet his ambitious climate goal of eliminating petrol-powered vehicles from federal fleets have lagged.

Biden last year Directs U.S. government to purchase only U.S.-made, zero-emission passenger cars by 2027 Electric versions for other vehicles by 2035.

“We will use the purchasing power of the federal government to buy clean, zero-emission vehicles,” the president said shortly after taking office in January 2021. Since then he has been using photography — Test drive Ford Motor Company’s F-150 electric pickup truckAlso Driving GM’s Cadillac Lyriq electric SUV at the Detroit Auto Show — promoting their potential. Cabinet officials touted first set of Ford Mustang Mach E SUVs Used in the energy and transportation sectors.

The White House has frequently explained that the 2027 timeline is on track. But the General Services Administration, the agency that buys his two-thirds of the 656,000 federal vehicles, says there are no guarantees.

Then there is the United States Postal Service, which owns the remaining third of the federal fleet. After initially hesitantly facing the lawsuit, the agency now says: Half of the initial purchase of 50,000 next-generation vehicles Power will be electric. The first set of mail vehicles will reach delivery routes later next year.

Climate change advocates say agencies can do better.

“The USPS is now making new vehicles all-electric or We have to go virtually all electric.”under A groundbreaking climate law that Mr. Biden signed into law last month.

About 30% of US greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector, making it the largest contributor to global warming emissions in the US.

White House Chief Federal Sustainability Officer Andrew Mayock said the electrification of the federal fleet is the “cornerstone” of Biden’s efforts to decarbonize the federal government.

“The future is electric, and the federal government has built a strong foundation…which will make this journey we take over the next decade,” he said in an interview.

Excluding the Postal Service, about 13% of all new light vehicles purchased across the government this year, or about 3,550, were “zero-emission,” according to government figures provided to the Associated Press. The government technically defines zero emissions as either electric or plug-in hybrids with gas-fired engines. Just under 2% for budget year 2021 and less than 1% for budget 2020.

Approximately 6% of new car sales nationwide are electric vehicles.

For vehicles on the road, the federal government’s numbers are even lower. Many purchases made in recent months have not been delivered for a year due to supply chain issues.

Currently, only 1,799 of the 656,000 federal vehicles are zero-emission vehicles.

With 35,000 to 50,000 GSA vehicles purchased per year, it would take years, if not decades, to retrofit the entire vehicle.

Sam Abuelsamid, Principal Mobility Analyst at Guidehouse Insight, said: “It’s probably going to be difficult for at least the next year or two to really accelerate that pace.”

“The Federal Fleet is an active fleet,” said Christina S. Kingsland, GSA’s head of federal fleet operations management.

The agency noted a limited supply of EVs from automakers, resulting in large initial costs. In addition, the agency’s needs are often highly specialized. From his truck for the Department of the Interior pickup to his SUV for the giant Homeland Security along the U.S. border.

Institutions should also have easy access to public EV charging stations. The White House admits the agency is “well behind” with its own charging infrastructure, with about 600 charging stations and a total of 2,000 chargers nationwide.

in the meantime Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law Provided $7.5 billion to the state Build an EV charging network of up to 500,000 chargers Over the years along the interstates, no funding from that act was allocated to the special needs of federal agencies. The cost of charging stations must be allocated to each department’s budget.

Analysts say meeting Biden’s goals for the federal fleet is conditional on the industry ramping up production, projected to begin in 2025 and 2026. By then, the impact of massive federal investment to build public chargers and boost EV production in the US will be felt, along with tougher regulations for automakers to cut emissions. There is a possibility.

For example, GM has set a target annual production capacity of 1 million EVs worldwide by 2025, while Ford plans to produce 2 million EVs worldwide by 2026. EVs.

The White House declined to set a specific target for 2023 EV purchases, but Mayock said he expects that number to exceed 13%.

Although the Postal Service is an independent agency, not only does it have 234,000 vehicles in the Federal Fleet, but the familiar blue and white mail truck is by far the most prominent Federal vehicle, making it a major player in the electrification of the fleet. plays an important role. , are rolling around in neighborhoods across America every day.

The agency plans to purchase up to 165,000 next-generation vehicles over 10 years. The Postal Service continues to “reduce its carbon footprint in many areas of its business and expanding the use of EVs in our fleet is a priority,” spokesman Kim Frum said. says.

After a near-zero baseline a few years ago when President Donald Trump proposed lowering fuel efficiency requirements for gasoline cars and eliminating federal tax credits for electric vehicles, White House officials said. , government EV purchases will only grow exponentially. .

At a recent EV demonstration at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center outside Washington, police officers test-drive police-equipped EVs such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E. Mayock called it a “great change management moment” for the government.

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Sharp reported from Portland, Maine. His AP Auto Writer Tom Krisher in Detroit contributed to this report.

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Follow AP’s coverage of electric vehicles at https://apnews.com/hub/electric-vehicles.