– By Caroline Falls –
Mary Joyce Ivers, award winning fleet manager in the US, is excited about the growth of electric vehicles in fleets, particularly given the boost the new US President Joe Biden is promising for environmental and infrastructure spending.
“With the new Biden administration, their goals are to be carbon neutral by 2050. The administration wants to invest $400 billion in cleaner energy research and that will help increase manufacturing of clean vehicles in the US,” Ivers said at the fleet conference run earlier this year by the Institute for Public Works Engineers Australasia (IPWEA). The Ventura County California public works deputy director was a keynote speaker at the 2021 virtual conference in March.
I’m not sure I heard her correctly, but I thought she said the US is targeting a leap to 500,000 EV charging stations across the country by 2030, from a current 29,000. For comparison, she said there were some 35,000 gas (or petrol) stations in the US today.
To be sure, US network CNBC reported late March that the goal was indeed 500,000 charging stations — it’s a part of Biden’s $2 billion infrastructure stimulus.
Ivers was named fleet manager at Ventura more than 20 years ago and said that very early on in that career they developed goals for electric vehicles. She said the fleet just retired an 18-year old Prius (Toyota launched the hybrid electric Prius in 1997). Today, one of Ventura County’s goals is to be emission free by 2035. It had even looked at introducing electric-powered fire trucks. They cost a bit more, but they can do everything, and it’s great to know the technology is there, said Ivers.
“We’re excited to see what we can do to electrify our fleet,” she said. She noted that some 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are from the transport sector and that, “It’s really great our transition will help reduce emissions.”
As to the nuts and bolts in the equation, Ivers said the County is reviewing its workshops to ensure its hoists and cranes are correctly located for heavy batteries of electric vehicles. “Some of the things we’re looking into is how to renovate the fleet workshop, including how to store batteries.”
One of the most encouraging things Ivers said was that the fleet workshop technicians love the variety and challenge the new technologies have brought to their work.
“Technicians are motivated because of the diverse vehicles they work on, “ said Ivers, adding, “They have embraced the technology. Implementing the computerised offices within the vehicles of the police and fire brigades, and I know they are ready to take on more of the EV tech. I know what’s important is to keep them empowered and excited to learn. We have online diagnostic and maintenance manuals and our technicians have really embraced those emerging technologies.”
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