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NYC’s ambitious shift to EVs ably assisted with logistical support from aftermarket businesses

Friday, August 9, 2019 - 07:00
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New York City’s widely anticipated switchover to electric vehicles remains a reality, with Genuine Parts Co. providing most of the fleet’s EV maintenance components under GPC’s existing umbrella vendor contract through NYC’s DCAS – the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

“We have not had any difficulty getting parts specific to EV vehicles,” reports DCAS spokesman Nick Benson, lauding the combined ramping-up abilities of GPC, fleet management services contractor ARI and DCAS in-house staffers. The process has been running smoothly, and any extra burdens imposed on taxpayers throughout the five boroughs have been next to nil.

NYC EVs NYC EVs waitng for a charge

“Individual garages will procure appropriate shop tools and diagnostic equipment, but EVs have not posed a special cost or upgrade requirement aside from the charging infrastructure,” Benson says. “We do not have a good estimate (pertaining to EV maintenance costs) because it’s not work that we’re doing centrally.” Generalized figures tabulate that an average all-electric sedan costs 65 percent less to maintain, saving more than $550 per year for each vehicle.

New York City annually spends about $1 billion on fleet repair, fueling and procurement. It operates more than 31,000 owned and leased vehicles, the largest municipal fleet in the United States. Upwards of 2,000 full-time employees are on duty 24/7 at fleet repair and garage operations across 50 fleet-operating agencies and offices.

DCAS maintains the units at 37 main repair locations and has more than 400 in-house fueling pumps and 590 charging stations -- including fast-charging capabilities -- along with 71 mobile solar carports, the largest such network in the world. Up to 100 additional fast-charging units are to be installed over the next two years by the NYC Fleet entity that is overseeing the initiatives.

The stock of full EVs currently consists of more than 400 Nissan Leafs and 80-plus Chevrolet Bolts, among other models.

“An expanding electric fleet requires a growing EV charging network,” explains Chief Fleet Officer Keith T. Kerman, who is also a DCAS deputy commissioner. “This technology can fully charge an electric sedan in 45 minutes compared to six hours for traditional chargers. Fast- charging will enable city staff to power up their fleet units quickly and get right back to work.”

NYC carport NYC charging station

Kerman notes that “solar powered electric vehicle carports offer a vision of a zero-emissions transport future, zero emissions at the vehicle tailpipe and in the production of the energy. NYC Fleet can produce its own clean solar power, keeping our electric fleet on the road free of fossil fuels and without taxing the electric grid.”

Expanding options
Thus far DCAS has replaced 2,200 gas-powered on-road fleet vehicles with plug-in electric models, a milestone achieved six years ahead of a 2025 target set by Mayor Bill de Blasio in his NYC Clean Fleet Plan, introduced in 2015.

Solar-powered carports

Building upon this success, NYC Fleet has doubled its goal and is now aiming to have at least 4,000 EVs in use by 2025. When de Blasio took office in 2014, the city had only 211 fleet EVs, and in 2000 there were only two alternative fuel models available and neither were plug-ins.

“Today we have over 40 alternative fuel models on the road,” says Kerman, “including electric plug in sedan, SUV, cross-over and mini-van options, and we expect to see these options continue to expand, including to diesel powered units.”

The 2,200 plug-ins have reduced annual CO2 emissions by nearly 9,000 metric tons, the equivalent of burning 1 million gallons gasoline.

NYC Fleet has replaced 5,400 traditional vehicles with hybrid models; 200 hybrid police cars are patrolling the city’s streets, and fire department ambulances are outfitted with anti-idling and an assortment of plug-in technology options.

“Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels not only decreases greenhouse gas emissions but makes our air cleaner,” said NYC Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection. “It is especially encouraging to see the City fleet’s fuel economy of 100 miles per gallon, because transportation is a leading source of carbon emissions nationwide. We must further this work as well as bolster the strides we have already made to incorporate more electric vehicles into our fleet.”  

“At a time when Washington is turning its back on fuel economy standards, the City of New York is leading the way,” declares DCAS Commissioner Lisette Camilo. “Through the use of electric and alternative fuel vehicles, we have achieved a significant milestone that demonstrates that cities have an important role to play in fighting the climate crisis.”

“Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels not only decreases greenhouse gas emissions but makes our air cleaner,” concurs NYC Council Member Costa Constantinides, chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection. “It is especially encouraging to see the city fleet’s fuel economy of 100 miles per gallon, because transportation is a leading source of carbon emissions nationwide. We must further this work as well as bolster the strides we have already made to incorporate more electric vehicles into our fleet.”

“NYC Fleet employs sedans, SUVs, small pickups and mini-vans, the same vehicles and makes that most Americans drive daily,” Kerman adds. “We are successfully employing hybrid and electric models, reducing fuel use and maintenance costs, and operating in every type of condition. We are moving forward on fuel economy, not backwards.”

“It’s time to say goodbye to fossil fuels and say hello to an emissions-free future,” Camilo points out. “The cars we buy directly impact the air we breathe and how we impact our climate. That is why we’re shrinking the size of city government’s vehicle fleet and using cleaner fueling options. By building the largest network of solar charging stations, we are showing what cities can do to take the lead.”

Sharing best practices
In June a global audience of governmental, environmental and automotive experts took admiring notice of NYC Fleet’s successful EV innovations during a series of presentations at the Montreal International Fleet Forum.

“By sharing our experiences, achievements and best practices cities will be able to move quickly towards smarter, more sustainable fleets and reap the added environmental, economic and social benefits that this major transformation generates,” says Valérie Plante, Montreal’s mayor.

“Municipalities have a key role to play in the transportation sector’s energy transition,” according to Plante. “When the City of Montreal made electromobility a priority, we knew we had to set an example and start the transition within our own large municipal fleet. We are firmly committed to this process and are working with local innovative businesses to make it happen.”

Noting that the increasing evidence of climate change is likely to “compel citizens to think about changes they must integrate into their daily lives, and how these changes will affect mobility within cities,” Sophie Mauzerolle, a Montreal urban planner, points out that “concrete action has to be undertaken to facilitate the energy transition. To achieve this, we rely on development, innovation and the sharing of expertise and good practices.”

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