New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed an executive order that sets the city on a path to electrifying its entire municipal vehicle fleet by 2040.
We’re generally skeptical of grand pronouncements of this kind, which set aspirational goals to be met many years after the leaders who set them will be out of office. However, one has to start somewhere, and when our nation’s largest city makes a move in the right direction, it’s bound to serve as an example for municipalities and other fleet operators around the country. Also, a lack of electric options in specialized vehicle categories (refuse trucks, fire trucks, etc) is often cited as an obstacle to the electrification of municipal fleets. EV manufacturers need the demand push that large cities can provide.
The Big Apple is already a leader in electrification. Of the 25,104 on-road vehicles currently in its fleet, 2,134, or 8.5%, are “electric,” according to the New York Daily News (it isn’t clear whether this figure includes hybrids). In 2018, the city announced plans to electrify its public bus system by 2040, and in 2019, it bought 15 New Flyer Xcelsior CHARGE electric transit buses.
The city appears to be getting great results from the EVs in its fleet so far. In March 2019, NYC Fleet reported that its pure EVs were delivering substantial savings on maintenance costs: “Right now, servicing costs with our all-electric vehicle models is dramatically less than with gas, hybrid, or hybrid plug-in models.”
NYC Fleet shared annualized costs for the EVs in its fleet with Quartz, and the data showed that, at least for the LEAF and the Prius, the savings more than compensated for the vehicles’ higher purchase prices. “All early indicators are that we are achieving the fuel, emissions, and maintenance benefits of this exciting transition away from the internal combustion engine,” the agency wrote.
“To address our climate crisis, New York City needs to stop burning fossil fuels and electrify everything,” said de Blasio. “That’s why we’re making our entire fleet electric by 2040 – the equivalent of taking 750,000 cars off the street.”
Sources: City of New York via New York Daily News, Quartz