City of Savannah slow to transition to green cars

City of Savannah slow to transition to green cars

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The City of Savannah unveiled its first two electric cars on Monday. They are a part of the Strategic plan to convert 15 percent of its fleet to hybrid or electric cars.

The city is on its way to reducing its carbon footprint, but the target goal may have to change depending on the results of these new electric cars.

They’re brand new, quiet, and don’t need gas. Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach is thrilled to have the additions.

“I’m displaying some fine new vehicles we got with the City of Savannah. The efficiency is amazing. The folks that run these things say they’re great to have,” DeLoach said.

Two Nissan Leaf’s are the newest addition to the City of Savannah’s fleet. As part of the strategic plan, the City wants 15 percent of its fleet to be electric or hybrid by 2023. Right now, the City of Savannah has 500 vehicles, meaning 75 would need to be converted to hybrid or electric in the next few years to meet the 15 percent goal of having green cars. The City of Savannah Sustainability Director Nick Deffley says that number is likely to change.

“We’re still trying to refine that number of the light duty vehicles, so within that number I think around 300 sounds reasonable, but we still have to play that through, cause we’re working on right sizing our fleet,” Deffley said.

If the city converts 15 percent of 300 cars, that means 45 cars need to switch to hybrid or electric. That is technically only nine percent of the city’s fleet of 500 vehicles. Deffley says some vehicles are not appropriate candidates to transition into green cars, so the department will evaluate which cars fit in with the strategic plan.

Now, let’s talk money. Each one of the electric cars costs a little over $31,000, but city leaders decided to lease to save taxpayer money.

“Well, long term, we know that it is less expensive for us because it’s not a full capital cost of the full vehicle. Also, the technology is always changing on these vehicles,” Deffley said.

A 2017 Nissan Leaf could travel 100 miles with a full charge. Technology upgraded so fast that the 2018 Nissan Lead could travel 150 miles on a full charge. City leaders say leasing is a great option because they won’t get stuck with old technology which could make it harder to sell the vehicles in the future. For now, the city says it will focus on figuring out which electric or hybrid cars are best to replace old city vehicles with so it can move forward with going green.

“Whatever we can do to get to that 15 percent is where we’re going first,” Mayor DeLoach said.

The parking department will use the first two electric cars and give feedback before a larger order is placed.

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