Local Governments Lead the Way on Electric Vehicle Adoption


Electric vehicle sales (EVs) continue to grow in the U.S. market, with total units sold surpassing 1 million in October 2018. EVs offer an economically viable — and in many cases superior — alternative to conventional vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICEs). In the long run, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are cheaper to own and operate because they deliver price stability, reduce fuel costs, and require less maintenance and service than ICEs.

In 2018, automakers sold more than 362,000 EVs in the United States, an 81 percent increase over 2017 sales — and the best year yet in terms of total U.S. EV sales volume. There are now more than 16 BEV models and 29 PHEV models available in the U.S., an increase from 15 BEV and 24 PHEV models available in 2017. EV sales can be expected to rise further as analysts project dropping battery costs to allow EVs to run further on a single charge and at a lower cost.

Cities, counties, and regions are recognizing that every EV offers an opportunity to improve air quality, while also reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by as much as half, compared to ICE counterparts. Such reductions are why Climate Mayors, a network of more than 400 U.S. mayors committed to taking meaningful action on climate change, has focused on how cities can collectively demonstrate strong EV demand by transitioning city vehicle fleets to EVs. Climate Mayors has partnered with the Electrification Coalition (EC), a national non-profit organization working to accelerate EV adoption, to launch the Climate Mayors EV Purchasing Collaborative (Collaborative), a first-of-its-kind, one-stop shop that provides cities and other public agencies with a critical platform to transition their fleets to electric.

Background & Overview of the Climate Mayors Collaborative

In 2017, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti led the release of an EV-focused Request for Information (RFI) for thirty U.S. cities to demonstrate demand for more than 114,000 EVs, including trucks and related equipment. Since then, the Climate Mayors effort has evolved into a commitment by more than 400 U.S. mayors representing 70 million U.S. residents in 47 states who have pledged to adopt, honor, and uphold the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

To address these challenges, Climate Mayors, the EC, and Sourcewell, a procurement partner, launched the Collaborative in September 2018. The Collaborative is a one-stop platform for public fleets to make cost-effective EV procurement decisions, bring nationwide cost parity to available EV models, and help cities and other public agencies capture the federal EV tax credit through an innovative municipal capital-leasing purchase model. The Collaborative serves as a catalyst for accelerating the transition of public fleets to EVs, cutting emissions, reducing U.S. dependence on oil, and saving taxpayer dollars. This transition is achieved through the Collaborative by providing cities with tools and resources to facilitate the procurement of EVs and EV-charging infrastructure to support electrified fleets. It also provides equity in vehicle availability to cities across the U.S.

By providing technical expertise as the Collaborative’s implementation partner, the EC also centralizes data and best practices on how to buy or lease EVs, and provides a suite of resources addressing EV-charging infrastructure.

How Cities, Counties, & Regions Can Make an Impact

The Collaborative arose from extensive efforts of the National Association of Regional Councils’ (NARC) Fleets for the Future grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Partnerships and lessons learned from that effort were rolled into the Collaborative to further city and county efforts in transitioning to alternative transportation fuels – specifically to EVs. Fleets for the Future first tested cooperative procurement for vehicles and provided education through webinars, best practices, and presentations to public fleets.

So far, more than 40 cities and counties have committed to the Collaborative to transition almost 1,000 light-duty vehicles to EVs. The City of Los Angeles, an early leader in municipal fleet EV deployment, is transitioning 137 city vehicles to PHEVs through the Collaborative; the City of Austin is integrating 71 EVs into its municipal fleet through the Collaborative; and smaller cities, such as Chula Vista, CA, and Rochester, NY, are taking advantage of EV opportunities as well. These combined fleet electrification strategies promise to transform the U.S. EV market in part by demonstrating local leadership.

Regional councils are the key conveners of cities and counties, and as leaders in transportation planning, they can continue to facilitate opportunities for fleet electrification. The Collaborative can help regional council members challenged by greenhouse-gas emissions goals and the EV procurement process. Regional councils can be engaged to help solve funding issues by exploring pilot programs addressing user fees and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) taxes to improve infrastructure. Regions can also help lead the charge on reducing EV “range anxiety” by planning for EV charging stations and alternative fuel vehicle corridors.

Learn More

By establishing fleet-electrification commitments through the Climate Mayors EV Purchasing Collaborative, cities and counties encourage other local governments to join the effort. Creating a pathway for cities and counties of all sizes to smoothly and cost-effectively electrify fleets will help drive U.S. EV market growth, while also achieving real progress toward the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

To learn more about the Collaborative, please visit www.DriveEVfleets.org or reach out to NARC to connect with Collaborative project staff.