Mayor meets with major automakers in Detroit in pursuit of new fleet

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Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard spent Tuesday in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show to speak with automakers about his new initiative to transform the city’s fleet and save the city millions each year.
The mayor wants all city vehicles to rely on alternative fuel technologies by 2025, and he plans to convert the entire city fleet so it will not rely on gasoline.

“It goes from electric to gas. It’s transparent. You don’t even notice it,” said a representative with a major automaker to Mayor Ballard, (R ) Indianapolis.

Only Fox59 was there with the mayor as he met with executives and checked out cars and trucks produced by General Motors, Nissan, Chevy and Ford.

“I would anticipate that we would have some of these vehicles come into the city certainly this year,” said Ballard.

The mayor signed an executive order requiring that almost every new car and truck purchased or leased for the city’s fleet has an electric or plug-in hybrid engine.

“You won’t see a lot of exceptions on the outside except for the charging port here,” said a representative with another automaker that was showcasing the cars plug-in technology.

Ballard predicts replacing the smaller city cars with hybrids could save Indianapolis $12,000 per car over its lifetime in fuel and maintenance costs, but police cruisers are another story. In fact, they are the one exception to his new initiative right now that he is determined to meet by 2025.

“There’s a vehicle out there that has twice the gas efficiency and has everything a police officer needs, but to be honest with you, I’m looking for more than that,” said Mayor Greg Ballard.
Ballard was referring to the Ford Police Interceptor that he claimed he liked, but he wants to wait for a plug-in option that can also get at least 40 miles per gallon. He claims it would save the city another $6 to $10 million a year.

The mayor said he is hopeful automakers will work with him on the technology that he believes could be of serious help to cities across the country and worldwide. He said his initiative is also fueled by his frustration over America’s dependence on foreign oil.

The city is also looking at converting some of the heavy duty vehicles so that they can run on compressed natural gas instead of diesel that is less than half the price.

“Most people have been very positive. You’d be shocked by how many people come up to me and say, ‘you’re saying exactly what I think,'” said Ballard.

Ballard will leave Detroit for Washington, D.C. where he will discuss his initiative with national energy security leaders and other mayors during the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s Winter Meeting.

Indianapolis has already been recognized by Toyota, Ford, and the U.S. Department of Energy as one of the top communities for deployment of plug-in vehicles and charging stations. There are more than 200 charging stations installed across Central Indiana.

13 comments

  • teresa young

    Oh what an idiot this man is………dammit,use the $$$$ to take care of other matters. Why?Why?Why do there need to be new cars?Hell most of us can't afford a new car…our taxes at work

    • JSH

      Do you think the city will still be driving the same vehicles in 12 years that they are driving today? Calm down… he's not advocating replacing them all tomorrow! However, by establishing an initiative to make sure future vehicle purchases are weighted with alternative technologies in mind and not simply the most car for the least money, the long-term return on investment will put the city in a much better financial position going forward. Indy can be a leader in fuel efficient fleet logistics across the Midwest and rank highly among American cities across the nation.

      • RAD

        The police department still has cars out on patrol from 1999, so yes, I could still see them driving the current cars 10-12 yrs from now. You hear a lot of crap the city wants to do, but I'll believe it when I see it!

    • HenryFord

      You are a moron. Toyota and Honda are both produced in the US. Plus they are WAY better vehicles than Chevy or Chrysler.

    • Chris

      Tell the Hoosiers working for Toyota in Princeton, Indiana they are not Americans.

      Also, "American" companies are often foreign owned. The "American" company Chrysler is owned by the Italian car company Fiat. Also, many foreign investors own stock in the "American" company GM and Ford. GM's biggest growth market is in China, not the U.S. Many of GM's cars are assembled in Mexico or Canada. The idea of "buy American" should mean where the car is made, regardless of who owns the company. Since many Toyotas are MADE in the U.S., that should be plenty enough "American" for you or anyone else.

  • Roberts

    Time for a reality check here. The cost for a CNG or LPG conversion by Roush Clean Fuels or another modifier for one of the City's F-550 truck chassis units will be roughly $20,000 higher than a regular gasoline unit. Retrofits on the older fleet are not really feasible, as they are NOT built with the CNG/LPG Engine Prep equipment, which hardens many internal engine components to handle this gaseous fuel. A "Medium Duty" (Ford F650 and up) chassis conversion with the Gaseous Fuel Prep package would cost you taxpayers even more than $20K per unit. What the heck is the return on the initial investment for these extremely expensive modifications? There is some dubious political capital to be gained by this initiative, but aren't there a few more projects that are more urgently in need of attention in the City of Indianapolis?

  • KM Brown

    What none of you are aware of is that in retro-fitting any car for a police car, you have to make certain and/or alter the vehicle so that the officer can have his laptop stand as well as the low-jack device. We need officers, police men/women. If the police officers would stop taking them home and using them as their sencond vehicle; and if they would stop wrecking them (intoxicated or not), then they would save repair costs, insurance costs. The mayor just agreed 2-3 years ago to purchase some new cars that no longer have lights on top of the car, but inside on the dash. I certainly would love to buy a car every 2-3 years at someone else's expense. Indianapolis is getting to the point where they state that they may need to file bankruptcy so therefore we should go out and buy some new cars. I am not talking out of turn here. I used to work for the city and handled vehicle repairs and insurance costs. The additional bad news here is the Indianapolis Fleet Services. You only need to be a high school graduate and they have steep prices.

    • RAD

      Most of those cars run horribly after 3-4 yrs. So your big idea is to just have the officers share the cars so that they run 24/7? That car will last you 2 yrs max. Then the city will lose money with all the repairs, and you'll complain about the money wasted on repairs and be wondering why the city doesn't just buy new cars.. I will agree with you that Fleet Services is a worthless, poorly managed department. It's easy to say " oh it's my tax dollars at work. What a waste". What you don't realize is that the police dept in Indy rarely ever get new cars. It's not like Fishers and Carmel who get new cars every 2 yrs (and they can drive them statewide).

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