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Biden vows to replace US government fleet with electric vehicles

26 January 2021 - 09:23 By Reuters
President Joe Biden has vowed to electrify the US government's fleet of vehicles.
President Joe Biden has vowed to electrify the US government's fleet of vehicles.
Image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Monday vowed to replace the US government's fleet of roughly 650,000 vehicles with electric models as the new administration shifts its focus towards 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 $20bn (roughly R306.4bn) or more to replace the fleet.

Biden's “Buy America” executive order signed Monday does not direct the purchase of electric vehicles.

As of 2019, the US government owned 645,000 vehicles that were driven 4.5 billion miles (32.2 billion kilometres) consuming 375 million gallons (1.4 billion litres) of petrol and diesel fuel, according to the General Services Administration (GSA). The US government spent $4.4bn (roughly R67.5bn) on federal vehicle costs in 2019, the GSA said.

Of US-government vehicles, just 3,215 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.