Air Force Jumpstarts Electric Vehicle Program

This week, Air Force officials unveiled a plan to establish Los Angeles Air Force Base as the first Federal facility to replace 100% of its general-purpose fleet with Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEV’s). This is the start of a broader Department of Defense (DoD) effort toward large-scale integration of PEV’s into its fleet. Lessons learned from this project will help DoD and other agencies understand operational implications of fleet electrification, while demonstrating cutting-edge PEV technologies, such as vehicle-to-grid (V2G) systems.

The move is the latest example of an Administration strategy of supporting emerging sustainable technologies, including biofuels, by being an early adopter. Large-scale government purchases can stimulate private sector investment, help create and nourish new domestic industries, and make government more cost-effective at the same time.

The switch to PEV’s at Los Angeles AFB will take place over the next year and will include a variety of vehicles, ranging from passenger sedans to pick-up trucks and shuttle buses. Only security and emergency response vehicles will be exempted. The project will provide vital information to support the broader DoD PEV Program and serve as a model for future activities.

As part of this transition, Los Angeles AFB will also be a test bed for vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technologies. With V2G, PEV’s will not only receive electricity from the grid but will also be able to provide electricity back to the grid as needed. This capability can be used to help reduce facility energy costs, generate revenues by supporting the public electrical grid, and provide back-up power to the facility during grid outages.

The main objective of DoD’s broader PEV effort is to bring PEV’s into its fleet at cost parity with conventional vehicles. To help accomplish this, DoD has partnered with the General Services Administration (GSA) to conduct a comprehensive study of the lifecycle costs and residual values of PEV’s. For example, two separate studies are underway to assess the costs of installing PEV charging stations. DoD is also working closely with the Department of Energy, GSA, and industry to gather key vehicle performance data.

The approximately 200,000 vehicles in DoD’s non-tactical ground fleet provide an excellent testbed to help pave a path toward a cleaner, more secure future. Here at Los Angeles AFB, we intend to create that future today.

Article by Camron Gorguinpour and Arun Seraphin.

Camron Gorguinpour is a special assistant in Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Installations, Environment & Logistics.

Arun Seraphin is Assistant Director for Defense Programs at OSTP

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