De Blasio takes credit for ‘green’ fleet transition automakers are already planning

Outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday tried to claim credit for a planned transition to electric vehicles that’s essentially baked into American automakers’ commitment to nix gas-powered cars by 2035.

Speaking to reporters from City Hall, de Blasio touted the city’s $420 million investment to replace its gas-guzzling fleet with EVs long after he leaves office.

“We’ve seen so many things that tell us the impact of the climate crisis is growing, we’ve got to do everything possible to address it,” the mayor said.

Hizzoner’s timeline for EV adoption has moved up to no later than 2030 for passenger cars and light trucks and no later than 2035 for most of the rest of the fleet, City Hall said. That’s five to 10 years sooner than his stated timeline in February 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The effort is also in line with the stated goals of the US auto industry. General Motors plans to stop making gas-powered cars by 2035, while Ford has said 40 percent of its new cars will be electric by 2030.

“We’ve seen so many things that tell us the impact of the climate crisis is growing, we’ve got to do everything possible to address it,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Stephen Yang

De Blasio’s comments on Wednesday followed an announcement in September for $75 million in new investment in electric vehicles, including some 300 new fixed-location and portable chargers.

New York League of Conservation Voters President Julie Tighe said the mayor should be commended for investing in a new city fleet and more charging ports, which the city sorely lacks.

“It’s a big source of emissions. It’s a big source of air pollution, which is a big source of respiratory problems. He deserves credit for making money available in the budget for that,” Tighe said.

But cities that want to ditch gas-powered vehicles face steep challenges and steeper costs, according to Nate Shadoin, director of fleet electrification at Mike Albert Fleet Solutions — especially when it comes to larger vehicles like school buses and snow plows.

Taxis
New York City will invest $420 million to replace its gas-guzzling fleet with EVs by no later than 2030.
Chris Hondros/Getty Images

“If you think about the guys who drive around and give tickets, or pool vehicles for government employees, that’s easy,” Shadoin said. “It’s when you get to purpose-built vehicles for very specific duties. There’s not very many of them.”

A City Hall rep said a small number of city-owned “emergency trucks and specialized trucks” will take until 2040 to be replaced with EVs.

Another challenge is infrastructure. The city under de Blasio quadrupled the number of electric cars in its possession, according to official stats. It built far fewer chargers.

“The city fleet, to give him credit on this, they made progress, but overall, the infrastructure is not there,” said former Taxi and Limousine Commissioner Matthew Daus, of the International Association of Transportation Regulators. “You need to have public and private charging stations, and to build out the infrastructure through public-private partnerships. None of this stuff is happening here and it’s happening in other parts of the country, especially on the west coast.”

A rep for de Blasio disputed that the city was piggybacking on the work of others.

“The commitments and requirements by auto manufacturers referenced in your article are for the sale of new vehicles. We are committing to operating, already having fully in place, an electric light duty fleet by 2030 and electric light, medium, and heavy (excluding basically fire trucks) by 2035,” City Hall spokeswoman Kate Smart said in an email.