Indianapolis Sets National Example with Electric “Freedom Fleet”

This week, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard set a new national standard with the announcement of a first-of-its-kind plan to modernize his city’s municipal fleet. This “Freedom Fleet” introduces 425 new electric vehicles into Indianapolis’s motor pool, reducing the city’s dependence on oil and creating real savings for taxpayers. The city will deploy all the new vehicles by the end of 2015 as part of a partnership with Vision Fleet, who are providing the financing for the project. This collaboration saves the city from having to pay the sizeable upfront cost of purchasing over 400 new vehicles while allowing them to save $8.7 million over 10 years. Mayor Ballard joined Vision Fleet CEO Michael Brylawski and General James T. Conway (ret.) of SAFE’s Energy Security Leadership Council in making the announcement Tuesday morning. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard announces the city’s new “Freedom Fleet” The vehicles will range from all-electric models, such as Nissan’s LEAF, to range-extended EVs like the Chevrolet Volt and Ford Fusion Energi, which include a small gasoline engine to recharge the battery if necessary. The allocation of vehicles will be determined based on the unique needs of the drivers and departments in the program. The first 14 plug-in hybrids deployed in the Freedom Fleet in this year’s pilot program have each saved an average of 53 gallons of gasoline per month, noted the Vision Fleet CEO in his remarks. “Each of the 425 EVs deployed by the beginning of 2016 will save at least 550-600 gallons of gas annually. Over the next 10 years, we expect Indianapolis will avoid 2.2 million gallons of expensive gasoline. Fuel costs for the new EVs will be about one-third of the old gas vehicles costs as a result.” While the transition to cost-saving EVs is important at the local level, the Freedom Fleet initiative carries national implications for American oil dependence. Cities are among the country’s largest automobile purchasers, and by integrating these cutting-edge electric vehicles into their respective fleets, they are not only saving money, but helping the nation delink itself from the global oil market. General Conway spoke to the importance of curtailing American oil dependence in his own remarks, urging Indianapolis citizens to be proud of their role as a pioneer in transforming the U.S. transportation sector. “The United States spends up to $83 billion annually on safeguarding global oil supply, putting American lives at risk and limiting our ability to conduct effective foreign policy,” he said. “This is a model for cities across the country, and one I hope will proliferate in the coming months and years.” Replacing gasoline’s dominance in the transportation sector with other energy sources like electricity and natural gas represents the most effective way to insulate the U.S. economy from the destabilizing effects of overreliance on the oil market. Transportation currently consumes 70 percent of domestic oil demand, and 92 percent of the entire sector relies on oil to fuel itself. Overall, Americans spend nearly $900 billion annually on petroleum products. General Conway congratulates the City of Indianapolis for its efforts to reduce oil dependence With political instability around the globe threatening to disrupt the flow of oil at a moment’s notice, it is critically important to encourage the development of a transportation sector that runs on a variety of fuels, enhancing consumer choice and making sure no single fuel dominates an essential part of the American economy. In its Freedom Fleet, Indianapolis is not only taking immediate steps to reduce American oil dependence, but also serves as a model for its citizens, who will see firsthand the practicality and ease of owning an electric vehicle, as well as the cost savings. By taking the initiative to transform the city into the country’s EV fleet capital, Mayor Ballard will inspire other cities to take up the charge of reducing oil dependence, an important step in the right direction.