Potential for Using Electric Vehicles on Federal Installations

LCD-76-206: Published: Mar 3, 1976. Publicly Released: Mar 3, 1976.

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GAO was requested to review the possibility of using electric vehicles on Federal installations, and conducted the examination in two phases. Phase I focused on the characteristics of electric vehicles and compared them with conventional vehicles regarding performance, operating economy, energy consumption, and environmental pollution characteristics. Phase II covered the potential uses of battery-powered electric vehicles at Federal installations, based on traffic characteristics and use patterns.

Replacement of conventional vehicles with electrical ones must be regarded tentatively because cost data for electric vehicles are quite limited. Many conventional, high-performance vehicles restricted to on-facility use might be replaced by economically attractive, low-speed electric vehicles. The advantages in lower energy consumption and air pollution levels are alluring. Very few on-the-road electric vehicles are currently in fleet service, although 400,000 off-the-road electrics are in service. Electrics are special-purpose vehicles of limited use because of short range, low acceleration, and poor hill-climbing ability. Their only contribution to air pollution, is through smokestack gas emissions produced by electric generating plants fueled by gas or coal. Even with oil-fueled electric generation, electrics consume less petroleum than conventional vehicles, but they are not necessarily energy-conserving except when replacing low-speed, short-range vehicles. The acquisition cost of electric vehicles is also lower for light, off-the-road electrics, although on-the-road models cost 2 to 3 times as much as conventional counterparts. Operation and maintenance costs are not low enough to offset the large initial outlay. Since many vehicles at Federal installations are over-powered for their assigned tasks, they appear to be candidates for replacement by electric models.

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