Cities Dangle $10 Billion EV Order In Front Of Automakers


US automakers are screaming that no one wants high efficiency, low emissions EV automobiles as they grovel before Emperor Trump, begging him to roll back fuel economy standards (as if he could do such a thing unilaterally, which he can’t). But cities are the places where auto emissions do the most harm.

plug-in hybrid EV

Now in a campaign coordinated by Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, 30 US cities are telling car makers they will buy $10 billion worth of EV vehicles if the companies will build them. “No matter what President Trump does or what happens in Washington, cities will continue leading the way on tackling climate change,” Matt Petersen, Los Angeles’s chief sustainability officer, tells Automotive News.

In addition to Los  Angeles, the cities involved include San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Kansas City, Denver, Houston, and Boston. “If you build it, we will buy it,” Chris Bast, Seattle’s climate and transportation policy adviser.

The offer from the cities is not just for automobiles and light duty trucks. It includes requests for vehicles that don’t even exist yet, such as street sweepers, trash haulers, and fire trucks. In all, the order would total 114,000 electric or hybrid vehicles. That’s more than 70% of all EV sales last year.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which is advocating strongly for a rollback of higher CAFE standards, is unimpressed by the cities’ offer. “Combined, those models were all outsold by a single model of pickup truck,” sniffs Wade Newton, a spokesperson for the Alliance. Yeah, that’s the point, you ignorant yahoo!

The cities’ initiative could move the needle on EV sales says Colin McKerracher, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance. While it would be spread out over several years, it would provide electric vehicle manufacturers reliable demand as federal policies shift and gas prices fluctuate. “I wouldn’t underestimate this,” McKerracher says. “What automakers really want in investing in electrification, whether that’s for passenger vehicles or commercial-use vehicles, is certainty.”

The initiative is in the RFP or “request for proposals” stage. The cities have asked manufacturers to tell them what products they have that will meet their current and future needs and how much they will cost. To date, 40 manufacturers have responded, including several bus and truck makers.

Emissions from cars and trucks became the largest U.S. source of greenhouse gases last year, surpassing power plants for the first time since 1979. That makes the EPA standards that Trump is thinking of rolling back critical to meeting U.S. goals agreed to at the COP21 climate change summit in Paris.

“Now more than ever there is a need for cities’ leadership on climate,” Daniel Zarrilli, New York City’s senior director of climate policy and programs, said in an interview. “We really want to send a message that there is a growing market for electric vehicles — regardless of what is happening in D.C.”

Source: Automotive News

About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I’m interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.

  • kvleeuwen

    I foresee a Deutsche Post-like scenario…

    • Steve Hanley

      Could well be…….

  • Epicurus

    $10 billion/114,000 EVs = $87,719 per vehicle. WTH.

    • Steve Hanley

      Have you priced trash hauling trucks, fire trucks, and police cars lately?

      • Epicurus

        No, but since fire trucks aren’t used often in most places, I would hold off on electric versions. I thought police cars were pretty much regular sedans with a black and white paint job.

  • Antony Berretti

    Not the first time something like this has occurred but certainly this is the biggest to date if the cities can pull it off.
    It will stimulate the market to provide the various vehicles the cities need, though I think Deutsche Post scenario possible but less likely when real competition in what may be a very short period where they bid for the various categories of vehicles. Having city emergency vehicles that are EV can have be an advantage in many ways, certainly they are not destined for driving many miles, so often short distance from their depot and can provide back up power from battery storage as well if need be.