A new vehicle procurement directive by President Obama could start changing the makeup of the nation’s automobile and truck fleet in the second half of this decade. The president ordered agencies to buy only non-petroleum fueled vehicles by 2015.
Obama announced that action during an energy security speech Wednesday at Washington’s Georgetown University.
Among his efforts to highlight fuel alternatives, the president is scheduled to visit a UPS shipping facility on April 1 in Landover, Md., to view “clean fuel” vehicles operated by parcel firms UPS and FedEx, plus some from non-freight companies.
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Up to now most private fleets have made moderate shifts away from gas or diesel-powered vehicles, but the president’s move could push the government to rapidly expand the alternative energy market for vehicles.
The White House said federal agencies operate more than 600,000 fleet vehicles, which include passenger cars and light trucks, up to heavy duty tractor-trailers as well as specialty vehicles such as buses and ambulances.
“The fleet of cars and trucks we use in the federal government is one of the largest in the country,” Obama said. “That’s why we’ve already doubled the number of alternative vehicles in the federal fleet. And that’s why, today, I am directing agencies to purchase 100 percent alternative fuel, hybrid, or electric vehicles by 2015.”
He said the government will also “partner with private companies that want to upgrade their large fleets.”
Those moves could put hundreds of thousands more alternative fuel vehicles on the highway within a few years, partly under direct agency operation and partly by helping build acceptance and spread out manufacturing costs to cut prices for private buyers. And agencies routinely put tens of thousands of used vehicles up for sale each year, so an influx of such new vehicles would soon spread into the secondary markets.
However, a harder push for cleaner burning cars and trucks also means policymakers in Washington must quickly figure out how to pull in fee revenue from vehicles that do not burn gasoline and diesel lest they escape taxes that go into highway improvements. Obama also touted the rising production of high-mileage U.S. cars; fuel tax specialists say those cars also generate far lower receipts for the Highway Trust Fund per mile than cars have in the past.
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