By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON – US President Joe Biden has vowed to replace the US government’s fleet of roughly 650 000 vehicles with electric models as the new administration shifts its focus toward clean-energy.
“The federal government also owns an enormous fleet of vehicles, which we’re going to replace with clean electric vehicles made right here in America made by American workers,” Biden said Monday
Biden criticised existing rules that allow vehicles to be considered US made when purchased by the US government even if they have significant non-American made components.
Biden said he would close “loopholes” that allow key parts like engines, steel and glass to be manufactured abroad for vehicles considered US made.
The White House did not immediately answer questions about over what period Biden planned to replace current vehicles. It could cost the US $20 billion (R306 billion) or more to replace the fleet.
Biden’s “Buy America” executive order signed on Monday does not direct the purchase of electric vehicles.
As of 2019, the US government owned 645 000 vehicles that were driven 7.1 billion kilometres, consuming 1.4 billion litres of petrol and diesel, according to the General Services Administration (GSA).
Of US-government vehicles, just 3215 were electric vehicles as of July 2020, GSA said.
During the campaign, Biden vowed to “make a major federal commitment to purchase clean vehicles for federal, state, tribal, postal, and local fleets.”
He also vowed to create 1 million new jobs in the “American auto industry, domestic auto supply chains, and auto infrastructure, from parts to materials to electric vehicle charging stations.”
Biden backs new consumers rebates to replace old, less-efficient vehicles with newer electric vehicles and incentives for manufacturers to build or retool factories to assemble EVs and parts.
Biden vows to build 550 000 EV charging stations and spend more in clean energy research.