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Indianapolis clean fleet program targets more than 1,000 public safety vehicles for replacement

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard with one of the hybrid vehicles used on display after making the announcement to the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee Wednesday, December 12, 2012 that Indianapolis wants to become the first major city to replace its entire fleet with electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
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Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard with one of the hybrid vehicles used on display after making the announcement to the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee Wednesday, December 12, 2012 that Indianapolis wants to become the first major city to replace its entire fleet with electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. / Danese Kenon/The Star
Written by
Jon Murray

Upgrading more than 1,000 of Indianapolis’ public safety vehicles to engines run on electricity or cleaner-burning fuels would save $8 million over five years, a new task force report said.

Replacing those non-pursuit public safety vehicles with cleaner cars is a key part of Mayor Greg Ballard’s plan, announced in December, to convert the entire city fleet to alternative fuels by 2025. That plan covers the city’s 3,135-vehicle fleet, from staff cars to police cruisers, to firetrucks and snowplows, but the vast majority are in Public Safety’s various departments.

The DPS Fleet Efficiency Team recommended most of its departments’ 1,035 non-pursuit vehicles be transitioned to hybrids or plug-in electric vehicles as they come up for replacement. It’s unclear how soon that will happen.

City officials said they hope to develop a plan to pay for the $12.2 million upfront cost by year’s end. Factor in fuel savings over five years, the resale of hybrids once the city is done with them and other factors, and the task force estimates the city could save more than $8 million, according to a news release.

Indianapolis Fire Chief Brian Sanford led the task force. It has recommended a mix of plug-in or hybrid cars for some undercover, administrative and other non-patrol employees; vehicles running on domestically produced B20 biodiesel for fire engines and other diesel vehicles; and, for remaining vehicles, replacements running on the domestically produced ethanol-based E85 gasoline blend.

For now, the plan leaves out more than 1,000 pursuit vehicles, because automakers have not developed a viable plug-in or hybrid option that meets standards for police cruisers. The report recommends a pilot program to test police cruisers that run on E85 fuel. (Read the report here.)
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