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.