Va. Guard adds hybrid electric cars to the vehicle fleet

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The Fort Pickett-based Virginia Army National Guard Directorate of Logistics, shows commitment to leading the way in energy efficiency by adding two hybrid electric vehicles to the fleet as part of the General Services Administration electric vehicle pilot program May 28th, 2014 at Fort Pickett, Va. Utilizing technology like the hybrid electric car supports GSA’s goal to reduce petroleum consumption by 33% by 2025. (Photo by Capt. Andrew J. Czaplicki, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va – The Virginia Army National Guard plugged in its first two hybrid electric vehicles May 28, 2014 as part of a larger Department of Defense strategy to reduce the petroleum consumption.

These new vehicles are street-legal for use on highways, they are intended for non-tactical operations, such as on- or off-post transportation and for light equipment movement. According to the Ford Motor Company, each 2014 Ford C-MAX Energi PHEV has an EPA-estimated rating of 45 mpg city and 40 mpg highway, has seating for five, and features a 2.0L hybrid I-4 powertrain with an electric motor, and can operate in electric mode up to 85 mph. The lithium-ion battery charges in 2.5 hours and can switch between electric-only, gasoline-only, and a combination of gas and electric at the push of a button.

As part of the General Services Administration’s plan to move the Federal fleet further towards advanced vehicles and decreased petroleum consumption, while also cutting costs associated with fuel consumption, the Virginia Army National Guard has been fielded two hybrid electric vehicles and vehicle power charging stations as part of a joint GSA and Department of the Army electric vehicle pilot program.

In mid-2011, the GSA was tasked with furthering President Obama’s goals to cut oil imports by one-third by 2025 and to put one million advanced vehicles on the road by 2015. Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum May 24, 2011 which directed agencies to implement government-wide fleet management practices that ensured the Federal Government is leading by example in fuel efficiency and innovative technology.

In 2014, GSA partnered with 20 other government agencies to incorporate 200 additional electric and plug-in electric cars into the federal fleet. This pilot is anticipated to save the Federal government over 92,644 gallons of fuel and offset 931 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

As part of the program, Virginia chose to lead the first round of tests for the National Guard and to see how the new electric vehicles stack up against those with gasoline- and diesel-fueled internal combustion engines.

“We are excited about participating in the pilot program for the electric vehicle. We’re looking forward to capturing the data for comparison and coming into compliance with Executive Order 13514 and the Presidential Memorandum to reduce the fuel consumption by 33% by 2025,” said Capt. Frederick Stovall, transportation management officer.

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“We currently have one charging station in by the Fort Pickett Directorate of Logistics and one to be installed by the Virginia Army National Guard Directorate of Logistics” explained Capt. Frederick Stovall, transportation management officer. (Photo by Capt. Andrew J. Czaplicki, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

By replacing fossil-fuel vehicles with electric vehicles, there are significant cost savings for the Virginia National Guard, as well as other federal agencies involved in the program. It costs an estimated $460 a year to run an electric vehicle, as opposed to an estimated cost of $1,200 for fossil-fuel-burning cars.“Under the shadow of severe fiscal challenges, we are exploring options to
save precious Operating Tempo funding for other ‘must have’ logistical requirements,” said Lt. Col. Michael H. Swanson, deputy chief of staff for logistics, “One of the G4 initiatives is to explore using hybrid electric cars in lieu of regular GSA vehicles. The intent of these vehicles is to reduce overall operational costs of the GSA Fleet as well as reduce our carbon footprint in Virginia.”

As part of the pilot program, GSA will continue to fund the incremental cost, or the cost difference between the electric vehicles and a comparable, conventionally fueled vehicle, as well as procure a level 2 (208-240V) charging station capable of reporting transactional data, which will be transitioned to the Virginia Guard after the first year. The Va. Guard is responsible for driving a minimum of 8,000 miles per vehicle per year as well as taking on the costs of the charging station installation, maintenance, and covering the charging expenses (i.e. electricity, facility fees, etc…) which are estimated at $0.11 per kWh.

The GSA-provided CT4000 ChargePoint ® Networked Charging Station allows two cars to charge simultaneously. As well as bolstering a maintenance-free, light-weight, self-retracting cord which keeps drivers from having to touch charging cables, the CT4000 possesses a 5.37” color LCD display which provides full motion charging instructions in a clear and easy to follow format.

“We currently have one charging station in by the Fort Pickett Directorate of Logistics and one to be installed by the Virginia Army National Guard Directorate of Logistics,” explained Stovall.

Additionally, there are noteworthy environmental benefits to using hybrid electric vehicles. The fossil fuel consumption can be reduced by 926.44 gallons during a six-year period, which means a reduction of approximately 9.31 tons of carbon dioxide emission over the same six-year period.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center stated that replacing a conventional vehicle with an electric vehicle would result in a substantial reduction in emissions.

The DOE findings established that the average passenger vehicle produces 473 grams, or more than a pound, of “greenhouse gases” per mile; these greenhouse gases include: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.

Data collected by the DOE is based on life-cycle emissions of conventional passenger vehicles powered by reformulated gasoline and fuel use per mile.

“I think it is definitely a great time that Fort Pickett and the Virginia Army National Guard take the next steps to migrate into the alternative fuels arena,” said Maj. James C. Shaver, environmental officer, Virginia Army National Guard. “There is a lot of traveling around the cantonment area of the installation that can benefit from smaller, lighter vehicles that are more conducive to shorter ranges and lower speeds.”

Electric vehicles also substantially reduce air emissions that cause adverse health effects in urban settings, where they can be concentrated and do the most harm to human health and the environment.

“The two vehicles acquired will be operationally tested around Fort Pickett and if successful, hybrid electric cars could replace the majority of the GSA vehicles in use around Virginia,” explained Swanson.
The federal government is the nation’s largest vehicle fleet operator, with more than 600,000 vehicles. In addition to procuring vehicles for about two-thirds of the federal fleet, roughly 65,000 vehicles a year, the U.S. General Services Administration also owns and leases about 210,000 vehicles to federal agencies of which 96 are operated by the Virginia Army National Guard.

Over the past five years, GSA procured vehicles that were on average almost 25 percent more fuel-efficient than the vehicles they replaced. In 2010, GSA led the way to doubling the number of hybrid vehicles in the federal fleet without increasing the overall number of vehicles owned by the federal government.

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