Despite tremendous growth in recent years, the electric vehicle (EV) industry needs more than market forces and regulatory pressure to achieve maximum market penetration.
That's where the federal government steps in.
Included in President Joe Biden’s Executive Order 14008, published Jan. 27, 2021, is a provision that directs federal government agencies to electrify their vehicle fleets.
Section 205 of the order calls on federal officials to use “all available procurement authorities” to achieve or facilitate two ambitious goals.
This first goal calls for steps to transform the electricity sector into a “carbon pollution-free” sector no later than 2035.
Secondly, the order calls for federal, state, local and tribal government agencies, including the U.S. Postal Service, to adopt clean and zero-emission vehicles.
EV sales have expanded dramatically in the first two decades of the 21st century. According to the U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center, hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) sales accelerated from 0 to 500,000 starting in 2000 and peaking in 2013. Sales of plug-in electric vehicles experienced a similar rate of growth in an even shorter time span, exploding from 0 to 350,000 starting in the year 2011 and peaking in 2018.
Despite their growth, EVs still only represent a fraction of the total number of cars sold. According to the Department of Transportation, more than 17 million vehicles were sold annually every year starting in 2015. Sales of HEV and plug-in vehicles have dropped slightly from their peaks, reaching a combined total of about 725,000 in 2019, putting them at 4% of the total number of vehicles sold.
Converting federal government fleets can potentially have a huge impact on the market for EV sales, and in turn on opportunities for electrical contractors who work in this sector. According to a report from the General Services Administration, the U.S. federal government fleet totaled 645,000 vehicles in 2019. These include passenger vehicles, heavy-duty trucks, vans, ambulances and postal delivery trucks.