Key findings from webinar on fleet incentives for clean vehicles

Center for Sustainable EnergyHaving access to incentives for vehicle acquisitions and infrastructure continues to be a critical part of moving clean transportation technologies forward with consumers and fleets. A recent study by Navigant Research of 1,002 US consumers found some not-so-surprising results on incentives and how they affect electric vehicle purchases. A webinar presented last week, “Fleet Incentives for Clean Vehicles,” offered the latest on available resources.

Kevin Wood, Project Manager, at San Diego-based Center for Sustainable Energy, moderated the panel and discussed the Advanced Transportation Center. Advanced Transportation Center is led by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. in alliance with the Center for Sustainable Energy  and with the Advanced Transportation Center of Southern California (which is based in Los Angeles and works with the e4 Mobility Alliance). The groups are working together to launch virtual and physical center locations, and to outreach to key industry stakeholders and end users. They’re also educating these communities on statewide incentive programs, air district grant programs, federal tax credits, technical assistance, and resources available through Clean Cities Coalitions. You can find more information at the organization’s website.

Randy Wilde, Clean Transportation Project Associate at Center for Sustainable Energy, talked about the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program (CVRP) that the center is offering in coordination with the California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board; and which is available to public and private fleets. Post-delivery rebates are available on electric vehicles (EVs) bought or leased statewide, including: $5,000 for fuel-cell vehicles; $2,500 for all-battery EVs; $1,500 for plug-in hybrid EVs; and $900 for neighborhood and motorcycle EVs. There’s about $25 million remaining in available funds for fiscal year 2014-2015. Funds are available for fleets in California or that have a California affiliate. You can visit this website to choose an eligible EV and apply for a rebate.

Wilde said that rental and car-share fleets can access a special reduced ownership provision, offering: $1,500 for fuel-cell vehicles; $750 for all-battery EVs; $450 for plug-in hybrid EVs; and $270 for neighborhood and motorcycle EVs. Increased incentives are now available to state and local public agencies through the new Public Fleet Pilot Project in disadvantaged communities. These incentives include $15,000 for fuel-cell electric vehicles, $10,000 for battery electric vehicles, and $5,250 for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Public fleets can also find out about eligibility for this program through CalEPA’s CalEnviroScreen model at this site.

Ted Bloch-Rubin, Associate Project Manager at CALSTART, talked about the California Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Program (HVIP). The HVIP’s goals include responding to a question that usually comes up for fleets – how to address the high incremental cost of medium- and heavy-duty advanced trucks. This program does alleviate some of that concern with attractive incentives – including $95,000 vouchers for vehicles over 26,000 pounds in gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) outside disadvantaged communities when acquiring one to 100 vehicles; $110,000 per vehicle for these heavy vehicles operating within disadvantaged communities and purchasing one to 100 vehicles; and $45,000 per vehicle when purchasing one to 101 to 200 vehicles. Medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses are included in the program at ranges starting with 5,001GVWR. Voucher enhancements have been added for serving disadvantaged communities, which tend to be affected by higher concentrations of air pollution.

Bloch-Rubin discussed vehicles being acquired by fleets in HVIP including trucks offered by Electric Vehicles International (EVI) and Smith Electric Vehicles, and electric buses available through Proterra and BYD. Hybrid vehicles available through the program include models manufactured by Hino Trucks, Altec, and Autocar. Hybrid vehicles are taking off in popularity with smaller fleets – the largest groups participating in HVIP for hybrids are in the one-to-nine vehicle programs. Hybrid conversions, such as vehicles offered by XL Hybrids, will be available in the fall of 2015.

Craig Rindt, Assistant Director for Research Coordination, Institute of Transportation Studies (at UC Irvine) provided an update on the development of the new California Energy Commission (CEC)-funded Natural Gas Vehicle Incentive Project. The specifics of the project have not yet been announced by CEC, but they should be of interest to statewide fleets that have been substantially deploying natural gas vehicles and refueling infrastructure for several years.

A public workshop seeking input will be held soon and guidelines are expected to be released soon on the Natural Gas Vehicle Incentive Project. This will be available by CEC as part of the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP). That program’s objective is to provide incentives that will directly benefit California’s economy and the environment by expanding the use of a domestically produced non-petroleum fuel that is a low-cost alternative to gasoline and diesel. Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS), Irvine, will work with CEC to administer the project.

There’s also a research component, where ITS Irvine will be conducting research on the natural gas vehicle market through enhanced data collection, a survey of end-users, and GPS and OBD data collection for a subset of end-users. The study will also explore natural gas vehicle market dynamics and market success conditions.

During the webinar, participants were asked to respond to quick survey questions. One question dealt with adopting emissions reduction goals. Seventy percent of webinar viewers said yes, 20% are planning to implement clean vehicle goals, and 10% don’t have these goals in place. For fleet managers participating in the webinar, 47% have plug-in electric vehicles, 58% use natural gas vehicles, 61% have hybrid vehicles, and 3% have fuel-cell vehicles.

To view a recording of this webinar, visit this site. To view the webinar slideshow, go to this site.