by C. Todd Lopez
Army News Service
WASHINGTON – The Army will soon be the largest fleet owner of both low-speed electric vehicles and hybrid-electric vehicles.
“That will have significant impact on our fuel consumption at our installations,” said Kevin T. Geiss, program director for energy security in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations and Environment.
Geiss said orders are in now for an additional 800 low-speed electric vehicles, formerly called “neighborhood electric vehicles” by the Army. The purchase is part of a plan to add 4,000 of the LSEVs to the Army over three years. The Army is getting an additional 502 hybrid vehicles for installations as well.
Twenty-three of those vehicles will go to Fort Carson’s Transportation Motor Pool, according to the TMP project manager, Dave Cruz.
“We are getting 23 hybrid Ford Escapes of the 502 hybrid vehicles that the Army is getting,” Cruz said. “I have 30 hybrid electric vehicles in the fleet right now. My first hybrid electric Honda Civics came in 1999. They’re very, very reliable.”
The TMP also will get 11 low-speed electric vehicles in October, Cruz said.
The Fort Carson TMP has more than 250 hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles – just over half of the fleet.
“I am at 51 percent (capacity) alternative fuel vehicles in the fleet right now under TMP. The combination of all those are hybrid, E85 flex fuel, and compressed natural gas,” Cruz said.
E85 is a blend of ethanol and gasoline. Ethanol is an alcohol-based fuel made from crops such as corn, he said.
While hybrids became hot commodities as gas prices surged last year, the Army has been seeking cleaner ways to power automobiles for nearly 10 years.
“Executive Order 13149 Greening the Government … came out (in April 2000),” Cruz said.
“The goal then in greening the government was to procure 75 percent of new acquisitions every year as alternative fuel vehicles. Whatever vehicles were available to (General Services Administration) we tried to get. Almost 90 percent of our (Provost Marshal Office) fleet is E85 flex fuel Chevrolet Tahoes.”
While the hybrid vehicles may provide significant savings in fuel cost, the purchases are not only about saving money, Cruz said.
“The hybrids cut down on fuel use; that’s why they’re there,” he said. “There’s a significant difference. E85 is more for the environment than to save on fuel costs. It’s a two-phase thing – let’s get more mileage from our vehicles and let’s protect the environment. That’s where they’re going, and we’ve been doing it.”
Editors note: Rick Emert, Mountaineer staff writer, contributed to this article.