December 3, 2012

Mayor Emanuel announces City of Chicago is expanding its commitment to green and alternative fuel vehicles for its own fleet

Twenty Electric Vehicles Will be Added to Fleet in Coming Years as Recent and Pending Purchases, Contracts, and Bid Opportunities Will Advance Mayor’s Goal of Transitioning Fleet to Green Alternatives

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced an expansion of Chicago’s commitment to green vehicles for its own fleet, including plans to add 20 electric vehicles to the fleet in the coming years.

“The City of Chicago is committed to an environment in which energy efficient vehicles are the norm, not the exception, and we are honoring that commitment with our own fleet,” said Mayor Emanuel.  “By purchasing various types of all-electric vehicles for our fleet, the City of Chicago is maintaining its position as a leader in the use of alternative fuel vehicles while evaluating new ways of providing high-quality services more cost-effectively. This will save taxpayers money by reducing the reliance on diesel fuel and promote a cleaner, more efficient city.”

The announcement comes at the tail end of a week in which the City has made several announcements regarding electric vehicles and batteries. On Tuesday, Mayor Emanuel announced an incentive program using federal funds to facilitate fleet conversion ($15M). On Wednesday, Mayor Emanuel announced that Smith Electric will open a factory in Chicago to build electric trucks, that will create 200 jobs. On Thursday, Mayor Emanuel announced a new procurement strategy to encourage companies to “green” their fleets. 

Then, Friday morning, the Department of Energy announced $120 million in funding to Argonne National Laboratory, just outside of Chicago, to build a battery and energy storage research hub. This is a major announcement that will dramatically transform the way that electric batteries are researched and constructed in the United States, and one on which Mayor Emanuel was directly focused, particularly relative to the element of the application in which the private sector will work directly with the Hub throughout the process. 

“My goal is to make Chicago the epicenter of the electric vehicles and batteries industry,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I am committed to every phase of this industry, from the research to the construction of vehicles to the presence of vehicles on our streets.”

The City of Chicago has purchased, entered into contracts, or begun the procurement process for the following all-electric vehicles:

  • Light-Duty Vehicles.  The City has purchased four all-electric Ford Focus hatchbacks.  These vehicles will replace several of the leased, all-electric Nissan Leafs currently being used by the City’s Departments of Fleet and Facility Management, Transportation, and Public Health as well as by the Mayor’s Office.  The Chicago Department of Aviation will continue to use a leased, all-electric Nissan Leaf in its fleet.  The City expects delivery of the Ford Focus hatchbacks later in 2012. 
  • Medium-Duty Vehicles.  The City has entered into a contract with Standard Equipment, a Chicago-based firm, to provide the City with Smith Electric medium-duty trucks with various installed bodies, such as delivery trucks and flatbed trucks.  The City intends to order three of these trucks in 2013 and a similar number in future years of the contract, for a total of 15, pending the need for the equipment and the availability of funding.  The City is also preparing to issue a specification for all-electric, medium-duty vehicles to be purchased with Federal funding. Standard was the lowest conforming bidder to an RFP issued in March 2012. The bids were opened in May and the contract was negotiated over the past six months. Some of these vehicles will be built by Smith Electric at their new factory in Chicago when it is in operation.
  • Heavy-Duty Vehicles.  The City has entered into a contract with Motiv Power Systems to purchase all-electric refuse collection trucks.  The City currently intends to purchase one all-electric refuse collection truck from Motiv, which will be the first of its kind, for real-world testing alongside the City’s fleet of traditionally-fueled refuse collection trucks.  The City may buy additional all-electric refuse collection trucks in the future based on the results of this testing and the availability of funding.  In addition to the contract with Motiv, the City is also processing a contract for all-electric semi tractors.

The City’s purchase of these all-electric vehicles fits directly with the City’s on-going efforts to buy green fleet alternatives.   The City currently has more than 2,200 green alternatives in its fleet, including flex-fuel, hybrid, and compressed natural gas vehicles. 

The growth of green vehicles in the City’s fleet falls in line directly with goals laid out in the Mayor’s environmental plan for the City, which calls for the city to increase by three percent annually its share of green alternatives in its on-road vehicle fleets. The City is on track to exceed this goal in 2013, continuing to improve on the 31 percent share of green alternative vehicles in the City’s on-road fleet.