Indianapolis Plans New Electric Vehicle ‘Freedom Fleet’ for City

Indianapolis, Indiana Indianapolis, Indiana Susan Montgomery / Shutterstock.com

It’s no secret that Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard is very serious about getting his city’s government to ditch foreign oil. The Marine Corps veteran issued a bold executive order in December 2012 on the issue, has encouraged other big-city mayors to join his cause and pushed for the creation of BlueIndy, an expanding all-electric carsharing fleet being deployed around the state’s largest city that can be used by Indianapolis city employees and residents alike.

Now he’s taken energy efficiency one step farther.

On Tuesday, Ballard announced a $32 million partnership with a California-based company that will manage the city’s so-called Freedom Fleet, a pool of 425 non-police-pursuit electric hybrid sedans that city employees will be able to use starting in 2016.

Ballard’s office has touted the agreement with Vision Fleet as something that’s not ever been used before.

According to the mayor’s announcement:

In partnership with Indianapolis, Vision Fleet developed an innovative financing structure that bundles together all the expenses of purchasing, fueling, and maintaining the electric vehicles into a guaranteed rate that is lower cost than Indianapolis’ gasoline sedans.  Additionally, to unlock maximum savings for the City, Vision Fleet will utilize its comprehensive suite of technology, data analytics, and operational support designed specifically for reducing the cost of ownership of alternatively fueled vehicles.

All in all, ditching the city’s gasoline car fleet could result in savings of $8.7 million for the city over 10 years and also save 2.2 million gallons of fuel, The Indianapolis Star reports.

“This is a landmark step in revitalizing our aging fleet and replacing expensive internal combustion engine vehicles with cutting-edge EV technology, all while reducing our dependence on oil and saving Indianapolis taxpayers thousands in fuel costs each year,” Ballard said in his announcement.

WATCH: WISH-TV’s report on Indianapolis’ Freedom Fleet

Read the full announcement released Tuesday by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s office:

INDIANAPOLIS – The City of Indianapolis will deploy the largest municipal fleet of electrified vehicles in the nation by early 2016, reduce our country’s dependence on oil, and save taxpayers millions of dollars under a new program detailed today by Mayor Greg Ballard. Through the initiative with Vision Fleet the City will upgrade 425 non-police pursuit sedans to plug-in hybrid and pure electric vehicles, cut the size of the fleet by 100 vehicles, and save $8.7 million over ten years.  

“This is a landmark step in revitalizing our aging fleet and replacing expensive internal combustion engine vehicles with cutting-edge EV technology, all while reducing our dependence on oil and saving Indianapolis taxpayers thousands in fuel costs each year,” said Mayor Ballard. “America’s dependence on oil ties our national and economic security to a highly-unpredictable, cartel-influenced global oil market. Diversifying the types of vehicles and fuels available to our drivers offers our city protection from often-volatile oil prices and better prepares us for the future.” 

In partnership with Indianapolis, Vision Fleet developed an innovative financing structure that bundles together all the expenses of purchasing, fueling, and maintaining the electric vehicles into a guaranteed rate that is lower cost than Indianapolis’ gasoline sedans.  Additionally, to unlock maximum savings for the City, Vision Fleet will utilize its comprehensive suite of technology, data analytics, and operational support designed specifically for reducing the cost of ownership of alternatively fueled vehicles. 

The new Indy fleet vehicles will include 100% electric models, such as the Nissan LEAF, as well as plug-in hybrid models like the Chevrolet Volt and the Ford Fusion Energi, which offer extended range. The cars will be distributed throughout the fleet based on the needs of city fleet drivers and their departments, and be branded as Indy’s “Freedom Fleet”.  The City will replace 100 vehicles by the end of this year and 425 vehicles by the beginning of 2016. Each gasoline powered sedan in Indy’s fleet would have cost taxpayers approximately $9,000 per year over the next decade, including purchase, fuel, maintenance and insurance. Freedom Fleet vehicles will cost approximately $7,400 per year over that period; saving taxpayers approximately $1,600 per year per vehicle. 

“This project will have enormous impacts on fuel consumption and fleet service costs,” said Vision Fleet CEO Michael Brylawski. “The first 14 plug-in hybrids deployed in Indianapolis’ Freedom Fleet have each saved an average of 53 gallons of gasoline per month. 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.” 

In addition to the projected savings, the city is doing its part to contribute to improved American energy security by reducing its dependence on oil, putting distance between the American economy and often-unstable global oil market.  In 2012, Indy became the first city in America to pledge to convert its city fleet to post-oil technology when Mayor Ballard signed an Executive Order mandating the change by 2025.  A year later the Mayor received the “E-Visionary Award” by the World Electric Vehicle Association for his leadership in promoting electric vehicles as a national security issue. 

“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,” said Marine Corps General James T. Conway (ret.), who spoke at the launch event. “I commend Indianapolis and Mayor Ballard for their forward-looking leadership that will save taxpayers money, reduce the city’s dependence on oil, and contribute to the overall improvement of our nation’s energy security. This is a model for cities across the country, and one I hope will proliferate in the coming months and years.” 

The “Freedom Fleet,” the first of its kind in the nation, represents an important leadership opportunity for cities across the country. Municipal fleets, major automobile purchasers in their own right, can find significant cost savings in transitioning their inventories to EVs, all while cutting their oil consumption and reducing American dependence on this resource currently responsible for powering 92 percent of the transportation sector at a cost of nearly $900 billion annually. 

About Vision Fleet: Vision Fleet is a full-service accelerator of large-scale alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) adoption in America’s fleets. Vision Fleet accomplishes this through its innovative “Clean Miles Solution,” which combines financing innovations from the solar and energy efficiency markets (Vision Fleet Capital) with comprehensive technological capabilities (Vision Fleet iQ) and operational support (Vision Fleet Assist) that are designed specifically for alternative fuel vehicles. Vision Fleet enables fleets to smoothly achieve ambitious AFV objectives at low, predictable costs and far faster than previously possible. Vision Fleet’s first project consists entirely of electric vehicles and is the largest ever deployment of electric vehicles in a public fleet (425 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles). Vision Fleet has offices in California, Colorado and Indiana and is backed by Vision Ridge Partners, a sustainability-oriented investment firm based in Boulder, Colorado. For more information, please visit VisionFleet.us

(Photo by Susan Montgomery / Shutterstock.com)

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