Dearborn looks to electrify city fleet

The City of Dearborn has wanted to integrate electric vehicles into the city fleet for a few years now. They recently announced a plan to make it happen.

Dearborn has partnered with AAW Infrastructure Partners, L3C, on a sponsorship and advertising program. Businesses, organizations, and individuals purchase marketing opportunities. That money then helps the city raise the funds necessary to offset the initial extra costs of purchasing electric and hybrid vehicles.

The city previously partnered with AAW on a similar program that helped raise funds for the purchase and installation of energy efficient LED lighting and EV charging stations.

The new program titled the EV-Mobility and Economic Stimulus program, is expected to fully launch this May.

We asked Dave Norwood, Dearborn’s Sustainability Coordinator, all about it.

Q: Why do electric fleets make sense for Dearborn?

A: We have been trying for some time now to work hybrid vehicles into the city fleet. We couldn’t make the economic case for it before. This gives us the opportunity to offset the cost of purchasing the more expensive electric vehicles. Now we can start electrifying the fleet.

It doesn’t hurt that Ford is coming out with a hybrid Police Interceptor.

Q: That leads us to our next question. Who will use the electric vehicles?

A: We’re looking to try it out with the police department. And then the Department of Public Works, but more for the supervisor vehicles like the F-150s, Escapes, and Transit vans. It wouldn’t be for the garbage trucks, haulers, and other heavy vehicles.

So the electric vehicles will be Ford Police Interceptors. We’re watching the marketplace, looking at the C-Max, too.

We purchase Fords here in Dearborn.

Q: How many vehicles does the city hope to purchase?

A: Starting out, we’re talking two to five, depending on how successful the campaign is. We generally purchase up to 10 to 12 new vehicles a year.

To offset the cost of one hybrid, it’s an extra $3,000 to $4,000 per car. It would be nice to raise around $20,000 in total.

And then in the long-term, with the money we save in energy costs, we can then re-invest the savings and buy more hybrids.

Q: When does the city hope to begin purchasing and eventually deploy its electric fleet?

A: It will probably be toward the end of summer. That could be accelerated, depending on how successful the sponsorship program is. But generally late summer or fall.

Q: Why should a business, organization, or individual purchase a sponsorship?

A: In the past, we’ve found that local businesses have been very supportive in seeing their local government pursue energy efficiency. We received a pretty good response in our efficient lighting projects.

Visit the EV-Mobility and Economic Stimulus program online to learn more about sponsorship and advertising opportunities.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.