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Indianapolis fleet going all-electric

By RICK CALLAHAN
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis wants to become the first major city to replace its entire fleet with electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in a move the mayor says is designed to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign-produced fuels.

Mayor Greg Ballard signed an executive order last week mandating the city to replace its current sedans with electric vehicles. The city will also work with the private sector to phase in snowplows, fire trucks and other heavy vehicles that run on compressed natural gas, and it will ask automakers to develop a plug-in hybrid police car as one doesn’t yet exist.

The city hopes to complete the switch by 2025.

Ballard, a retired Marine officer, hopes that in making the switch, Indianapolis will help the country reduce its dependence on foreign oil. City spokesman Marc Lotter said the mayor considers it an issue of national security.

“The United States’ current transportation energy model, driven by oil, exacts an enormous cost financially and in terms of strategic leverage,” Ballard, a retired Marine Officer and Gulf War veteran, said in a statement. “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.”

The city fleet includes 500 nonpolice vehicles, and the police car switch alone has the potential to save taxpayers $10 million a year in fuel costs, the statement from the mayor’s office said.

Lotter did not provide an estimate on the cost of the change. The new vehicles will be purchased as older vehicles are retired. He said the city buys about 50 nonpolice vehicles every year.

“We are negotiating with the automakers and several international capital fleet firms to get the best deal possible for taxpayers,” Lotter said.

City officials and the U.S. Conference of Mayors have researched the issue and found that no other major U.S. city has announced it will convert its entire fleet.

For Indianapolis, home of the world-famous Indianapolis 500 automobile race, to be first to make the switch is somewhat ironic. The race began in the early 1900s and is held on Memorial Day weekend.

Indianapolis is hardly considered the most progressive city. Others, such as San Francisco, Austin, Texas, Boulder and Santa Fe could take notice and follow suit. The sales of electric vehicles are expected to increase significantly in the next decade.

“From everything we know, we are the first city in the nation to take this step,” Lotter said.

The Indianapolis area already has 200 charging stations, and Lotter said the city is working with private companies to develop more.

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