Integrating ZEVs: A California Department of General Services Case Study

“While we only make up a small portion of Governor Brown’s vision to put 1.5 million zero emission vehicles on California’s roads, state government should lead by example and DGS is excited to be working with all state government agencies to be at the forefront of these efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lessen our dependency on fossil fuels.”

– Brent J. Jamison, Deputy Director, California Department of General Services

On March 23, 2012 California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued Executive Order (EO) B-16-12 ordering that “California’s state vehicle fleet increase the number of its zero emissions vehicles through the normal course of fleet replacement so that at least 10 percent (less public safety vehicles) of fleet purchases of light-duty vehicles be zero emission by 2015 and at least 25 percent by 2020.” To be successful in meeting Governor Brown’s EO, California state government agencies and departments needed to overcome several obstacles including: 1) the formulation of zero emission vehicle (ZEV) integration policies for its departments; 2) establishing the contracts necessary to meet department ZEV and electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) needs; 3) educating departments on the availability and functionality of ZEVs; and, 4) creating the procedural guidelines that facilitate adoption of ZEVs without diminishing a department’s programmatic operations.

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As California’s oversight body for all state government fleet acquisitions and operations, the California Department of General Services (DGS) took the lead in implementing the governor’s EO by utilizing a comprehensive and phased approach to statewide ZEV integration and deployment. In its phased approach, DGS first had to first ensure that proper contracts were in place to meet the demand for ZEVs created by the executive order. The department’s Procurement Division (DGS PD) quickly established contracts for a wide array of battery electric (BEV), and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV), as well as contracts for EVSE stations. Currently, the state has four different ZEVs on contract available to California state agencies and local governments. DGS PD also continually monitors the evolving market of ZEV vehicles for additional product to make available to state departments. DGS PD is presently soliciting for light duty BEV/PHEV trucks, SUVs, and vans as well as medium duty BEV/PHEV trucks and cans. DGS PD also anticipates soliciting for fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) in the fall of 2015. Finally, DGS PD established multiple EVSE contracts that allow California state and local governments to select from eight types of Level 1 and Level 2 charging stations. Education was the next critical piece to the state of California’s success. Therefore, after establishing the needed contracts, DGS began actively educating department fleet managers and state employees about ZEV products and capabilities, infrastructure needs, and best methods for complying with the executive order. DGS took a multi-faceted approach to offering ZEV related information. These efforts include:

  • Organizing multiple ZEV and EVSE outreach fairs where vehicles, EVSE and related information were made available to department fleet managers.
  • Directly engaging department fleet managers at quarterly meetings.
  • Issuing a DGS “Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Guidance Document” to help department fleet managers plan for ZEV infrastructure needs.
  • Incorporating over 20 ZEVs into DGS’ daily vehicle rental pool in downtown Sacramento which allows state employees and fleet managers to familiarize themselves with ZEVs and learn about integrating ZEVs into their own fleets. .

The final piece of DGS’ phased approach was to adopt comprehensive policies for the acquisition of ZEV vehicles and mandatory ZEV/EVSE integration planning for California state departments. In January of 2013, DGS issued Management Memo 13-04 – an administrative directive that all California executive branch agencies are required to follow – which mandated each vehicle-owning department to provide DGS with three-year ZEV and EVSE purchasing plans and established the structure for the annual tracking of ZEV purchases. These policies also outline the ratio of BEV, FCV and PHEV vehicles that must be purchased in order for a department to meet its annual ZEV purchasing requirements when submitting a yearly vehicle acquisition plan to DGS.

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As a result of these efforts, the state is currently on track to exceed Governor Brown’s 10 percent ZEV purchasing requirement for fiscal year 2014-5 (July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015). By the end of the 2014-15, DGS anticipates that the state will have added over 280 ZEVs to its fleet since the issuance of the executive order. California’s success in this effort is due in large part to the willingness and forward thinking of its departments who have embraced this new vehicle technology and are discovering innovative ways to integrate ZEV’s into their fleets. California’s Department of Transportation, for example, currently uses many of its ZEVs in its road maintenance and inspection teams while DGS has stocked its daily rental fleet with battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. While challenges still remain – mainly surrounding the availability and range of ZEVs that meet operational needs – with departments actively seeking innovative ways to use ZEVs in their fleets and DGS providing the structure and guidance for adoption, the state is on track to continue to meet the goals laid out in the governor’s EO and do its part to reduce the state’s overall petroleum dependence and improve air quality for the citizens of California.