Over the last decade, there has been a sizable and accelerated transition to alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), or vehicles that do not solely run on gasoline or diesel fuel. Motivated by a mixture of trends within regulatory, market and environmental sectors―private and public vehicle fleet managers now have access to a diverse and capable set of AFV options ranging from small loaner and last mile delivery vehicles to pickup and semi-trucks. Since AFVs do not solely rely on gasoline or diesel fuels, they are often much cleaner in terms of their emissions, can have lower maintenance costs, and allow for the opportunity to be more resilient in their operations.
One of the fastest growing types of AFVs are all-electric vehicles, also known as battery electric vehicles (BEVs). As the name suggests, BEVs utilize onboard batteries that store electricity, which is used to power an electric motor. This type of vehicle requires no gasoline or diesel fuels to operate and have zero tailpipe emissions. Similar variations include hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). HEVs are powered by a gasoline or diesel-based internal combustion engine in combination with an electric motor that uses electricity stored within onboard batteries. HEVs recharge their batteries via regenerative braking. PHEVs also use the same technology as HEVs but have larger batteries that can be charged via regenerative braking or recharging equipment.
In recent years, the City of Cape Canaveral has been heavily investing in the procurement of BEVs, HEVs and PHEVs and their accompanying infrastructure due to their ability to reduce traditional fuel and maintenance costs while reducing or even eliminating tailpipe emissions. According to the City’s 2021 Resiliency Action Plan, Staff is working to convert the City’s vehicle fleet to low or zero emissions AFVs by 2035. The City is well on its way to achieving this goal, with about 25% of its current fleet considered to be AFVs. What follows is a summary of the latest technology and alternative fuel fleet vehicles incorporated into the City’s operations.
In 2021 each of the City’s fleet vehicles were upgraded to include a telematics system. Telematics is a data system that incorporates GPS tracking for each fleet vehicle, allowing the City’s fleet supervisor to monitor vehicle telemetry in real time. Used in many fleets across the world, telematics can help to track fuel use per vehicle, location, maintenance issues, emissions, and can even trigger an alert should there be a collision. This system will allow for more efficient fleet operations by quickly identifying fuel waste, poor driving habits and vehicle maintenance needs.
The City now has five HEVs within its fleet, the first of which was acquired in 2019. Each of these HEVs is a Toyota RAV4 SUV that gets 41 miles per gallon in city driving conditions. Three belong to the Public Works Services Department and two to the Community and Economic Development Department. These vehicles operate on their batteries while idling or at low speeds if there is sufficient charge. Due to the frequent stop-start nature of city fleet vehicles, regenerative braking is often engaged, so each vehicle’s onboard batteries are usually fully charged on journeys around the community. It is anticipated that the City’s HEVs will help to save thousands of dollars in fuel costs and tons of greenhouse gas emissions over their lifespans when compared over the equivalent mileage to comparable all-gas vehicles.
To date the City’s fleet contains two BEVs. One is an all-electric Ford Focus acquired in 2017, and the other is a 2021 all-electric Nissan Leaf. Used by the Community and Economic Development and Public Works Services Departments respectively, each of these vehicles produce zero operational emissions. Like with the City’s HEVs, it is estimated these and future BEVs will incur significant costs and emissions savings.
The City currently has six public level-2 electric vehicle universal charging stations (with 12 total charging ports) that are available to residents and visitors. Locations include the Cape Canaveral Library (two ports), at Cape Canaveral City Hall (six ports), Manatee Sanctuary Park (two ports), and Banana River Park (two ports). Another charging station is also set to be installed at the upcoming Cape Canaveral Community Center.
The City’s existing set of charging stations are soon to be replaced with smart stations that allow for real-time monitoring, maintenance awareness, and efficient load management of recharging vehicles. Existing stations will not go to waste however, as these will likely be repurposed for use at the Public Works Services fleet yard in order to accommodate an expected increase in the number of electrified fleet vehicles.
What Comes Next
The next major sector of vehicles targeted for electrification is pickup trucks, the City fleet’s most common vehicle type. Pickup trucks allow for the easy movement of both Staff and equipment across the City in a timely manner, they can be used to haul and some can even provide jobsite power in the form of onboard electric generators and outlets. Today, numerous manufacturers are preparing to or already have released all-electric and hybrid pickup trucks that provide expanded capabilities over all-gas versions for several different reasons. These reasons include more torque, more cargo space in the form of “frunks” in the absence of front-mounted engines and even V2B charging. V2B stands for vehicle-to-building, and it allows an electric vehicle to be physically plugged into a building to help power it with its own set of batteries should the utility grid fail.