Electric Vehicles

Washington State DOT Increases Alt-Fuel Fleet with New EVs

July 2014, Green Fleet Magazine - Feature

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Secretary Lynn Peterson charges up WSDOT’s first Nissan LEAF. The state expects to realize more than $2,500 per EV over their operational life. Photo: WSDOT
Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Secretary Lynn Peterson charges up WSDOT’s first Nissan LEAF. The state expects to realize more than $2,500 per EV over their operational life. Photo: WSDOT

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is working to set the standard and define the future of sustainable transportation with its vehicle fleet. With the deal signed and sealed in early May, WSDOT became the first state agency in the nation to negotiate a leasing agreement to acquire a number of all-electric Nissan LEAF cars for official state use.

Shortly after signing the deal, five new plug-in electric vehicles started humming softly at WSDOT offices from Shoreline to Vancouver. According to WSDOT Fleet Administrator Greg Hansen, Northwest Region headquarters in Shoreline will receive two LEAF electric vehicles (EVs), and one each will go to its headquarters in Olympia, the Olympic Region in Tumwater, and the Southwest Region in Vancouver, Wash.

Building a State-of-the-Art Charging Infrastructure

To keep all the state-of-the-art lithium-ion batteries charged and ready for their full 75-mile average range, WSDOT is installing 220-volt, Level 2 EV chargers at all four offices. Level 2 chargers deliver medium-speed charging in four to eight hours. Headquarters already has the agency’s only DC fast charging station, which charges in about 30 minutes.

In 2012, WSDOT became the first state agency in Washington to acquire a Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid. It’s an extended-range electric vehicle with a gasoline engine that kicks in when it exceeds its 40-mile range on electricity alone.

Converting to an Alt-Fuel Solution

To help advance EV technology, WSDOT has purchased the first Washington state-owned all-electric vehicle and began a pilot project to negotiate a state contract to lease Nissan LEAFs, paving the way for state agencies. The lease agreement allows WSDOT to take advantage of the zero-emission vehicle technology early and set the standard for more efficient government and sustainable transportation.

WSDOT’s fleet operations is expected to save $2,500 in operating costs over the lifecycle of each EV. The fleet is gradually transitioning its gasoline vehicles to all-electric, plug-in hybrids, propane autogas dual fuel and biodiesel to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve its sustainability goals. All fleet sedans that are not yet electric or hybrid are compatible with up to 85-percent ethanol (E-85) flexible fuel.

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