Chevrolet Volt, Nissan lead feds' green initiative

President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum from Washington Tuesday afternoon that puts the federal government on pace to buy only alternative fuel vehicles by 2015 while phasing out old-school transportation.

He is hoping that about 1 million advanced cars and "light-duty trucks" will be on the road by that time.

Under the Obama directive, agencies also must meet a 30 percent decrease in petroleum consumption by 2020 as part of the administration's plan first announced in October 2009 to make America more fuel- and energy-efficient. The impetus for these developments stems from Obama's Executive Order 13514 on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance.

To dovetail with the president's push for alternative vehicles, the General Services Administration on Tuesday said it would begin a 20-agency pilot project to integrate electric vehicles and technologies into the federal fleet. It starts with the leasing of 100 electric vehicles to be used in Detroit, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington. Federal buildings will be equipped to recharge and fuel the vehicles.

“This electric vehicle pilot will leverage GSA’s role as the government’s fleet operator and landlord to successfully integrate advanced vehicles and infrastructure into the government fleet,” Martha Johnson, administrator of the GSA, said at a news conference.

“Under the president's fleet management directives, we will (support) the president's plan to put 1 million advanced vehicles on the road by (2015).”

The initial vendors that will supply the government with vehicles are Chevrolet, Nissan and Think City. While the Obama administration put the number at 100, the car companies are saying 116 plug-in vehicles have been ordered. Most of the vehicles will be Chevrolet Volts.

The three companies have been awarded contracts for their technical and management capability, past performance and price. Other marques will be considered for future purchases beyond this pilot program.

“As the nation’s largest vehicle-fleet operator, the president’s fleet management directives and GSA’s electric vehicle pilot will cut the federal fleet’s petroleum use and support the development of domestic, clean energy technologies – supporting the president’s goal of cutting imports by a third by 2025 and continuing to build a 21st century clean-energy economy, while also saving taxpayer dollars,” said Nancy Sutley, who chairs the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Obama also reiterated Tuesday he wants to see dependence on foreign oil cut by one-third by 2025. His memorandum directs agencies to implement government-wide fleet-management practices that he believes will ensure the government leads by example in fuel efficiency and leading-edge technology.

“Diversifying our transportation fleet with hybrids, electric vehicles and other alternative-fuel vehicles is a critical element in (breaking) our dependence on foreign oil and investing in America’s growing clean-energy economy,” said Steven Chu, the U.S. secretary of energy. “The initiatives under way by the federal government ... to reduce the use of oil and gasoline in our fleets will help to spur U.S. innovation."

Zoe Lipman, the National Wildlife Federation’s senior manager for transportation and global warming solutions, is excited about these changes.

“Today’s announcement is a win across the board, cutting the government’s dependence on oil, saving taxpayers money on gas and reducing global warming pollution, all while investing in American innovation," Lipman said in response to the president's plans. "The federal government is leading by example, showing we can have quality cars that deliver real savings at the gas pump while doing the right thing to protect our air and water.

“Strong fuel efficiency standards can cut America’s oil dependence, support our economic recovery and safeguard our natural resources.”

You can reach's Hawke Fracassa at [email protected]

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