Thursday, May 26, 2011

The US Government is Investing in Greener Vehicles

The federal government is greening its automotive fleet. Under the Obama administration the US government plans to purchase 116 plug-in electric vehicles including more than one hundred Chevrolet Volts. The federal government also plans to buy the Nissan Leaf and Think Cities. In accordance with an Obama administration memo other federal agencies are sure to follow.

In March 2011, President Obama said that the government should be buying only alternative fuel vehicles within four years. As explained by Energy Secretary Steven Chu, "Diversifying our transportation fleet" is a "critical element in President Obama's long-term plan to break our dependence on foreign oil and invest in America's growing clean energy economy."

The Obama administration released a memo to government agencies on May 24th saying that all new cars in the federal government fleet must be alternative-fuel vehicles, (hybrid, electric, or natural gas). According to the General Services Administration (GSA), all new government vehicles must be able to use alternative fuels by 2015. Given the fact that the federal fleet is composed of more than half a million cars and trucks, the government can single handedly provide a boost to manufacturers of greener cars.

The US government began buying hybrid cars in 2009, this includes the 3,100 that the GSA purchased with $300 million in federal economic stimulus money. President Obama has indicated that he would like to see 1 million low or no emissions cars and trucks on US roads by 2015.

The GSA manages vehicle purchases for about two thirds of non-military federal vehicles, it has bought about 35,000 vehicles so far this year, with 22,000 of them being alternative-fuel capable.

Martha Johnson, administrator of the General Services Administration said in the LA Times: "It furthers the administration's goal of putting 1 million advanced vehicles on the road by 2015, and it represents a significant targeted investment in the next generation of automotive technology."

However, government cars and trucks that run on fuels like E85 (a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline) have had difficulty sourcing fuel supply. To help address this problem, the memo released by the administration also encourages the development of a fueling infrastructure for such vehicles.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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