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As government fleet vehicles age, government agency officials know the importance of transitioning their vehicles fleets from gas guzzlers to environmentally-friendly green fleets. That transition can take years for an agency to complete and companies that manufacture and sell green fleets should rev up their efforts to capture many years’ worth of revenue.

Green fleet solicitations are steadily increasing - Onvia

Economic Improvement Signals Increased Green Fleet Investment

The U.S. economy is improving and stabilizing, leaving opportunities for the public sector to focus more on green fleet investments. Government Fleet magazine reported in January 2016 that 47% of fleets had increased replacement budgets, compared to only 38% in 2014. Likewise, 32% of budgets remained steady, dealing with no decreases. Government Fleet’s survey received 104 agency responses and found that a few of agencies even doubled their budgets from the prior year specifically to create or renew existing vehicle replacement programs.

“Since we are ‘general funded,’ this has provided an opportunity to catch up on replacements,” Paul Chamberlain, Fleet Services Manager at Clark Public Utilities in Vancouver, WA, told Government Fleet.

Leon County in Florida
 
Onvia’s database revealed the county’s tentative FY 2016 budget, which shows that the county is preparing to transition its ambulances and other public vehicles into a green fleet. It intends to accomplish this with an $11 million funding project from 2016 to 2020.
 
City of Keene in New Hampshire
 
Set aside $4.2 million in its 2016-2021 Capital Improvement Plan to “green” their 137-vehicle fleet in staggered plan based on factors such as equipment age, condition, trade-in value and operational needs.
 

A Wide Variety of Agencies Can Benefit from Green Fleet Efforts

Going ‘green’ can have a positive effect for a wide variety of government agencies. Many public sector agencies such as transit, law enforcement and general operations across the country currently operate non-fuel efficient fleets and those agencies can benefit from early planning for greener replacements.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District in Diamond Bar, CA recognized an opportunity to phase-in low-emission police cars. Since Ford stopped producing the previously dominant police cruiser (the famed Crown Victoria) in 2011, there has been a gap in the market. The district is using the gap as a chance to test alternative vehicles and establish a more environmentally sustainable fleet that cuts down on pollution. A November 2015 bid shows that agency officials are seeking advanced ‘green’ technologies in their police pursuit car fleet that will allow the cars to intelligently operate in a zero-emission mode. The district wants vendor input for a cost-effective vehicle model that produces zero tailpipe emissions for a portion of its operational time.

Going Green Can Take Some Time

It’s a slow process to fully convert agency fleets. Sonoma County in California is just one example of an agency that has been working for 20 years to fully install their green fleet. After two decades of effort, the Northern California fleet was recently named the No. 1 Government Green Fleet in North America:

“The No. 1 ranking is the result of the county’s efforts and successes in operating an environmentally friendly fleet of vehicles and equipment for more than twenty years,” said Susan Gorin, Chairwoman of the county’s Board of Supervisors, in a press release.

Opportunity Awaits for Transportation Vendors to Capture Long-Term Business

With limits on funding, officials must evaluate the lowest emission options on each vehicle or piece of equipment it considers replacing. Officials who are in the early stages of planning can also look at the budget and purchase histories of similar agencies that have already ‘greened’ their fleets, such as Sonoma County.

Vehicle equipment and supply vendors should recognize that agencies often plan for fleet replacements years in advance and a well-researched influencing strategy early on the process can result in meaningful partnerships guaranteed to bring in consistent revenue for years, and even decades, to come.