Indianapolis aims for first municipal green fleet

Some corporations are implementing the use of alternative-fuel vehicles in order to cut down on the cost of diesel or gas, and it appears major metro areas are catching on to this trend. Cities across the country are replacing some of their older municipal fleet vehicles with new, greener models, which can help reduce costs and benefit the environment. 

According to Governing magazine, cities like Seattle, Ann Arbor and New York are adding green vehicles to their fleets; however, none of these cities has a completely sustainable fleet. That is part of what makes a new plan from Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard so unique - Ballard wants every single city vehicle to run on green technology by 2025. 

Phasing in new technology to see various benefits 
Ballard recently signed an executive order that would require Indianapolis to phase out its older vehicles and replace them with electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles. According to The Associated Press, this won't be limited to just city vehicles - the local government will have more environmentally friendly snow plows, fire trucks and other heavy vehicles phased in as well. Overall, the plan calls for all of the city's 3,100 fleet vehicles to run on sustainable technology within the coming years. 

One of the major benefits that will be seen from this strategy is the reduction of fleet expenses. Even though sustainably powered vehicles typically cost more than their traditional fuel counterparts initially, they grant corporations and municipal fleets the benefit of slashing gas or diesel expenses. Indianapolis officials expect they'll save $12,000 over the lifespan of each new sustainable vehicle in the fleet. Reports claim the city could save up to $10 million per year in fuel expenses alone. 

Aside from slashing operational expenses, having a green fleet comes with the added bonus of having limited emissions when compared to traditional vehicles. This means the city's cars will have a more positive impact on the environment than gas-powered automobiles. Ballard has stated emissions aren't his primary motivation for employing a green fleet and energy independence and costs are more important factors, but the benefit still remains. 

Managing a green fleet 
While green vehicles may not need to fill up at the gas pump, they can travel only so far at one time. A driver who doesn't carefully keep an eye on his or her battery charge or alternative fuel levels can run out of power in the middle of a busy street, which can become a large concern when those drivers are police officers responding to emergency situations or fire personnel trying to get to a residence as quickly as possible. 

It's important to be aware of how far a sustainable vehicle can travel, meaning it's essential for fleet managers to plan the most direct route that will ensure municipal drivers don't run out of battery charge or alternative fuel while on the road. Getting further on one charge is possible with routing software that can help management teams better plan paths for their drivers to follow throughout the day. Failing to use fleet optimization software can lead to problems for municipalities and businesses seeking to get the most out of their green vehicles.