Electric Cars, Plug-In Hybrids Front And Center In Indianapolis

If you were to guess what city would be the first in the United States to mandate the purchase of either electric or plug-in hybrids for its non-police fleet, who would you say did that? San Francisco? Nope. New York City? Wrong again. Portland, Oregon? Once again, nope. The city is in Indiana, of all places, with its capital Indianapolis suddenly thrust into the spotlight for making use of green technology in such a manner.

Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard yesterday signed an executive order pushing the wide scale adoption of greener vehicles in his city’s vehicle fleet. And if you think he is just some green hippie pushing a progressive agenda by doing this, consider this – he’s actually a retired Marine with time served in the Saudi Arabian oil fields during the First Gulf War, so he understands well the need to get our nation off of imported fossil fuels.

Chevy Volt

Chevy Volt (image copyright EarthTechling)

Plans unveiled by Mayor Ballard call for modernizing the city’s fleet to electric or plug-in hybrid by 2025. He isn’t calling though for dumping the current 500 non-police fleet vehicles, but instead replacing them over the next 13 years as they wear down. By making this move as it is time to swap them out, it is projected the city will save taxpayers about $12,000 per vehicle over a 10 year period by primarily reducing costs to refuel them.

In addition to the conversion of its fleet into greener cars, Indianapolis is also looking to develop the world’s first plug-in hybrid police vehicle. Unique police car of tomorrow concept ideas from the recent Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge aside, what Ballard seeks is to partner with one or more automakers to develop this hybrid to meet the safety, power, electronic and range needs of a 21st century police force. Again with the projections, it is forecast a plug-in hybrid hitting 40 MPG could save city taxpayers up to $10 million per year. Current vehicles the cops drive average about 10 MPG.

Of course, as electrics and plug-ins are deployed, one would obviously wonder about a supporting EV charging infrastructure. That apparently already exists, as with little fanfare this corner of the United States quietly has already put into play more than 200 charging stations across central Indiana.

“The United States’ current transportation energy model,” said Ballard in a statement [PDF], “driven by oil, extracts an enormous cost financially and in terms of strategic leverage. Our oil dependence in some cases places the fruits of our labor into the hands of dictators united against the people of the United States.”

I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.