News / Ottawa

Green means go: hybrid, electric vehicles to drive City of Ottawa's fleet

Hybrids and electric vehicles will now get top priority when the city's replacing parts of its fleet.

The city has 59 hybrid and electric vehicles in its fleet already, with nine more on the way.

Metro file

The city has 59 hybrid and electric vehicles in its fleet already, with nine more on the way.

The city will now buy hybrid and electric vehicles whenever possible, thanks to a motion from Coun. Mathieu Fleury.

The Rideau-Vanier councillor raised the issue at transportation committee Wednesday as part of the city’s green fleet plan update.

The city currently has 59 hybrid and electric vehicles – including four electric Zambonis. Nine hybrid cherry pickers are on order.

But good intentions aren’t good enough, Fleury said.

“There’s nothing mandating staff to purchase equal or fair-value vehicles that are friendlier to the environment,” he said.

If council agrees, eco-friendly vehicles will be top choice when staff replace vehicles in 2017 and 2018, as long as the technology meets operational requirements.  

Any cost difference would come from the annual $500,000 green fleet fund.

Staff will also be expected to report to council each year explaining why green vehicles couldn’t be purchased in certain cases.

The city often replaces up to 200 vehicles a year, although there's no budget for it this year.

Both Coun. Stephen Blais and Coun. David Chernushenko warned staff to “be skeptical” about vendors’ fuel efficiency claims, after OC Transpo’s hybrid buses failed to deliver their promised cost savings in 2012.

The fleet is supposed to improve its fuel efficiency by eight per cent over 2012 levels by 2020, according to the city’s air quality and climate change management plan.

To that end, the updated green fleet plan also asks staff to explore alternative fuel options (including ethanol and compressed natural gas) and new technologies like exhaust gas recirculation systems.

Staff are also cracking down on idling with a new telematics pilot to track employees' driving habits.

A $20,000 trial this spring will test the GPS-based system in 25 vehicles and determine if its worth installing in more vehicles. The technology will track gas guzzling habits like speeding, hard acceleration and idling.

More on Metronews.ca