Under President Obama’s Executive Order demanding 30% Federal fossil fuel cuts, many Federal Agencies are now beating the rest of us to extraordinary heights of tree-huggery.


The Military has been signing contracts for dazzlingly climate-friendly items like the largest solar plant in America (Fort Irwin just signed up for a whopping 1 GW of solar) or million-dollar tests of advanced jet fuels that have practically no carbon footprint.

But here’s something even the non-military agencies with fleet-purchasing needs will appreciate as they hunt for solutions to reducing fossil dependence 30% by 2020.

Senator Hatch is once again tinkering with the electric vehicle subsidy bill that he and then Senator Obama initially proposed (with Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington) way back during the Bush administration. The bill eventually was funded in the Obama administration Recovery Act, and it now succeeds in providing consumer tax credits for subsidizing EVs—from golf carts to Teslas. This time Senator Hatch wants to raise that subsidy limit for heavy fleet vehicles, the biggest users of fossil fuels on the roads.

The  Kohl-Hatch Heavy Duty Truck Hybrid Tax Credit Bill S. 2854, would extend federal tax credits to $30,000 per truck to purchasers of electric trucks in weight classes like Smith Electric Vehicles U.S 8 ton Edison. Its Class 5-8 trucks can deliver from 50 to 120 miles of range – depending on the size of the battery pack a customer orders – and typically have a top speed of around 50 miles an hour.

If $30,000 seems hefty, consider that the Edison can run $150,000, depending on options like charging times. It normally takes an overnight charge up to 6-8 hours, but both range and top speed are customizable.

But with its much lower fuel expense (because it is recharged on night-time electricity) and with only 4 parts in its 120-kilowatt electric motor, it also costs much less in upkeep than an ICE truck equivalent with 1,000 parts continually deteriorating, and high and uncontrollable fuel and maintenance costs.

As a result, the initial high cost is recouped very quickly in 6 years or so. Most fleet vehicles typically get constant use for at least ten years.

Legislation like Hatch’s is the kind of government support that propelled the first hybrid car past the early adopter stage into a global vehicle. Initial subsidies by the Japanese government were for up to half the cost of Toyota’s Prius.

Government subsidies (and the incredibly cheap operating costs) plus government mandates for Federal Agencies will help drive the initial sales – – that in turn will drive down costs in the long run. That is because, as volume grows, a competitive supplier base develops and that gradually reduces the prices of all electric drive vehicles for all the rest of us.

So, though initially it will be the Federal Post Office that has its eye on the Edison, even if your fleet is not government run this is a subsidy to keep an eye on, if you need your fleet to get ten years of use or more.

Image: Smith Electric Vehicles