The Prince William County Department of Facilities and Fleet Management recently acquired its first all-electric vehicle (EV), a Chevrolet Bolt, with plans to have 80 all-electric, plug-in-hybrid or hybrid vehicles in the fleet by 2024. This initial EV, which gets 275 miles to a charge, joins the County’s fleet of 1,458 vehicles, which already included 24 hybrids.
The County’s transition to greater use of fuel-efficient vehicles is a step towards meeting the Climate & Resiliency Goals championed by Supervisor Boddye and adopted by the Board majority on Nov. 7, 2020.
“We’ve had hybrids in the fleet going back to 2008,” said Assistant Director of Facilities and Fleet Management Darrel Reynolds. “With the board’s direction to be carbon neutral by 2050, we have to start bringing in efficient vehicles now.”
The transition is being managed strategically, with new vehicles being brought in as existing inventory reaches the end of its lifecycle and with department needs in mind. “As vehicles are due for replacement during the normal cycle, we will look for there to be a viable electric or hybrid version for the needs of each department,” Reynolds said. “We’re not going to give an agency an electric vehicle for the sake of giving them an electric vehicle and that we’re not just getting rid of vehicles just to bring electrics and hybrids in.”
While all-electric vehicles and hybrids can cost more upfront, they save expenses in maintenance and fuel, enabling the County to reduce costs over time. These fuel-efficient vehicles pay for themselves in the long-term. “There are 1,000 fewer moving parts in an EV, which means that you’re going to save money for maintenance and repairs,” said Department of Facilities and Fleet Management Customer Service Manager Brent Lineberger. “For example, oil changes are a thing of the past with EVs. Your brake wear is reduced because you’re using regenerative braking to slow the vehicle, hence that kinetic energy is put back into the battery if you’re using a hybrid.”
In preparation for greater utilization of EVs, last year the County installed 10 charging stations at the McCoart Government Center and will install them at additional locations as the need grows. “We are working with property management and facilities construction management to put together the infrastructure to support additional vehicles. Our goal is to have infrastructure in place prior to getting the EVs,” Lineberger said.
Facilities and fleet management will also require support as the county adds new vehicles. “Along with putting hybrids or EVs in place, we want to make sure that there is a vendor that can support us after the sale. Things fail and we need to have proper parts distribution,” Lineberger said. “We’ll also need training of our technicians to ensure that they are safe working around these products and that they can support the vehicles as we move in that direction.”
As more manufacturers replace existing gas-powered models with comparable EV and hybrid models, Facilities and Fleet Management will be able to more easily replace older vehicles in the coming years. “It’s not going to be something that we have to justify why we’re giving them an electric vehicle. It should be the same thing they’re driving, just with a different power source,” Reynolds said.