How did I do this? By engaging employees at every level.
In 2018, I met with department heads and told them the next 35 cars we purchased would all be electric. Chevrolet had just come out with the Bolt, an electric vehicle with a range of 230 miles — a real game-changer. The first thing out of everybody’s mouth was, “That’s not going to work for me. I drive 150 miles a day.”
I showed them the data. Their actual average was 32 miles per day. I said, “Let’s try the vehicle.”
Six months later, one guy who had been adamantly opposed shook my hand. “That’s the best vehicle the city has ever purchased,” he said. “You’re not going to get me out of that car until I retire.” That’s culture change.
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Get Executive Support for EV Adoption
Many fleet managers tell me their bosses — whether it’s a city manager or a city council — hesitate when they see the higher upfront costs for electric vehicles.
Sure, EVs cost more. However, because the cars are simpler, with no transmissions and no internal combustion engines, they don’t need oil changes, smog tests or other repairs. They’re on the road more instead of in the shop. We see that extra cost paid back in two to three years, which is nothing when you own the vehicle for eight to 10 years.
I suggest that fleet managers tell upper management, “You may not be into green, but I can save you $100,000 over the next five to 10 years.” Don’t you think management will be happy when they find they don’t have to raise taxes?
Once they buy in, they have the power to institute policies that will help you transform the entire fleet — and get the drivers to buy in as well.
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Technology Drives Change in Government Operations
Technology is sometimes beyond your control. You can’t just convert your city’s fire engines to electric when electric fire engines don’t yet exist.
Sometimes, though, you can help push the technology forward by showing companies a market exists if they build the right product. For instance, our current garbage trucks average 2 to 3 miles per gallon. Their dedicated routes make them perfect candidates for electric vehicles.
That’s why we’ve decided to test out an electric garbage truck next year in partnership with Lion Electric. To truly affect change, you need to work with stakeholders inside and outside your company. Some of these companies need beta testers, and if we don’t step up, they may not be able to build the next generation of vehicles that we need.