Indianapolis to rent 425 electric vehicles through $32M contract

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Oct. 28, 2014) - City employees are already driving around nearly two dozen electric vehicles and the number of electric cars in the fleet is about to grow drastically. The City of Indianapolis will have the largest municipal fleet of electrified vehicles in the nation by the beginning of 2016.

The city signed a $32 million, seven-year contract with Vision Fleet Capital Inc. The new electrified city vehicles have been dubbed the "Freedom Fleet." Indianapolis is the company's first customer and CEO Michael Brylawski said he plans to prove the model in Indy.

The deal is unique because the city is renting the vehicles with an option to buy them at the end of the contract. The contract covers the rent, fuel and maintenance.

According to the Department of Public Works each gas-powered car costs the taxpayer an estimated $9,000 annually, while a Freedom Fleet car is estimated to cost $7,400 annually.

Mayor Greg Ballard insists the contract is a good investment that will save the city money on fleet expenses.

"Every contract that we've entered into that I know of has saved the city money so I'm ok with all that, that's what we do. We're trying to save the city some money in the long run so that's what we do," said Mayor Ballard.

City-County Council member Zach Adamson just found out about the contract during the mayor's announcement. He's in favor of green technology but has questions about the numbers and concerns about the city being locked in to a multi-million dollar deal.

"The devil is in the details and I think that's why the oversight is so important that we have this checks and balance over these kinds of deals and we don't have that right now," said Adamson.

Twenty-one electric vehicles are already in use and another 80 will be added to the fleet by the end of the year. DPW officials also point out they plan to take 100 gas-powered vehicles out of service to reduce the overall fleet.

Estimates provided by the city show the new electrified vehicles have the potential to save $8.7 million over 10 years. The mayor's spokesperson, Marc Lotter, said this contract is advantageous because the city does not have to buy the vehicles outright.

The new vehicle fleet will include 100% electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and plug-in hybrid models like the Chevrolet Volt and Ford Fusion Energi. The cars will be purchased through local dealerships.