California buys 10 Nissan LEAFs for its fleet

by Ernie Hernandez on December 26, 2012

State also makes public charging stations available

In January of 2011 California Governor Jerry Brown signed an Executive Order mandating reduction of unneeded state owned fleet vehicles, and eliminating the purchase of new vehicles, with the exception of those needed for critical services, health, safety or security of the public. By July of that year, 3,800 vehicles had been removed from the fleet of over 50,000.

Fast forward to August of this year. Governor Brown’s order has now resulted in the elimination of over 7,100 vehicles – including over 4,200 passenger vehicles. One of the primary goals of these eliminations were to reduce the amount of gasoline used by the state. Combined with insurance and depreciation savings, these reductions are expected to save more than $12.6 million annually.

To further the cause of reducing gasoline usage, the California Department of General Services (DGS) has now announced the delivery of 10 new Nissan LEAFs, which will replace 10 existing vehicles in the DGS daily rental fleet. The goal is to have 10 percent of California’s vehicle fleet be zero emission by 2015 and 25 percent by 2020. Without knowing the daily requirements of distance driven per trip, it is difficult to tell whether this could be a realistic goal or not. To that end though, the state is also adding charging stations in the Sacramento area to encourage the use of these new state fleet electric vehicles (EVs). Placement of these charging stations could prove beneficial of EV use if properly located.

There are currently 24 state provided electric vehicle charging stations in five locations with an additional nine stations due to come online soon. 19 of these charging stations in four locations are accessible to the public. Naturally, all of the four locations noted are State parking lots, including the DGS headquarters parking facility. All of them are centrally located in or near the downtown Sacramento area. This could go a long way toward encouraging use of EVs as EV owners can drive into the downtown area knowing that they will be able to charge their vehicle near their destination. Some commenters on the PlugShare.com site have noted that some of these locations are not available after state office working hours. These are the kinds of issues that need to be considered and resolved if these are to truly be a useful resource for the public. Having the charging station in a convenient location does no good if it is not available as needed. An additional recommendation that we would make is to place additional charging locations near the most frequently traveled to areas outside of the downtown area. This would encourage those state personnel to use these LEAFs for trips that they may not otherwise consider.

Adoption of EV usage by any large enterprise is a welcome step in creating awareness of EV capability. When being seen driven by state personnel taking care of official business, this can be seen as a sign of a municipality actually walking the walk that it is recommending for others.

 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Twohy December 27, 2012 at 9:40 am

Dear Ernie,
Glad to see a new article. This could be interesting to watch. Lots of non EV people using the cars probably charged at 100% most of the time, and driving in the heat of Sacramento for a large part of the year. I hope the State fully undrestands what it has purchased and what sort of longevity the vehicle will provide. Just the use of the heater and defroster during the winter will be a test of the vehicles.

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Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) December 27, 2012 at 10:01 am

Hi Frank,

Good points. I will send the DGS an email about charging protocol (not that it will get to the right people, but one can hope!)

Reply

Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) December 27, 2012 at 10:20 am

This is the feedback that I sent to DGS:

As a LEAF owner, I was pleased to see the acquisition by the state of these 10 EVs. This is a great step toward improving EV visibility and will also assist in infrastructure development as state employees direct feedback directly to the source.

A couple of recommendations:

1. Use the battery charge timers, and set the default charge to 80 percent vs. 100 percent. Unused vehicles sitting with 100 percent charge will degrade the battery faster.

2. Place a spiral bound notepad in each vehicle and require a short note for every use. Distance and speed traveled, how many battery charge bars at end of trip vs. beginning of trip, how many miles per bar averaged, etc. Place a big note on the front of each notepad “IGNORE THE DISTANCE REMAINING GAUGE. EVERY DRIVER DRIVES DIFFERENTLY AND IT WILL BE OF NO USE TO YOU. EXPECT 5-7 MILES PER REMAINING BAR, WITH A 2 MILE RESERVE AFTER THE LAST BAR GOES AWAY. PLAN YOUR RECHARGES ACCORDINGLY. CHARGE TO 100 PERCENT ONLY WHEN USING THE VEHICLE IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE CHARGE IS COMPLETE.”

I’ve had a website for over two years focusing on the LEAF with articles about other EVs. It can be found at livingleaf.info for reference. Good luck with your new acquisitions, and may we see more of them in the future.

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