Location: Columbus, OH

Fleet Type: Light- and Heavy-duty Electric, Hybrid, and Alternative Fuel Vehicles

 

 

Narrative

One of the guiding principles of the board of commissioners of Franklin County is to be environmentally conscious. One of the ways Franklin County aims to go down the path of sustainability is to be aware of the fuel they use in their fleet and find ways to improve the sustainability of their transportation. For years, Clean Fuels Ohio (CFO) has been a partner with Franklin County helping them find the resources they need as well as offering consulting and conducting analyses along their journey with alternative fuels and electrification.

Franklin County’s interest in alternative fuels first began in 1996. They purchased their first E85 fueled vehicle in 1998 and have since made the switch to compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and fully electric vehicles (EVs). Many factors have made this transition possible including participation in the Smart Cities Grant with the City of Columbus. In total, they have forty three HEVs, nineteen PHEVs, and two EVs. On top of these vehicles, they have seventy-four E85 vehicles and have also implemented one EV diesel bus and two propane powered vehicles into their fleet.

The first EV they have in their fleet is a 2013 Ford Focus EV which they purchased in 2015. The second is a 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning. Their PHEVs consist of Ford C-Maxs and Ford Fusions. Their HEVs consist of Ford Fusions and Ford Explorers. These vehicles are used all around the county amongst a wide range of departments, the biggest being the sheriff’s department. They find that HEVs work well in their fleet because their drivers do not have to worry about plugging in if they run out of battery but that they are working their way into growing their fleet with more plug-in hybrid or fully electric vehicles. This comes with a lot of changes and additions with how to fuel and charge their vehicles.

Franklin county began installing both private and public charges in one of their parking garages. They started with four private county vehicle chargers and four public vehicle chargers. This has since changed to six private county vehicle chargers and two public vehicle chargers. One year later, they installed chargers in a different parking garage with four private county vehicle chargers and four public vehicle chargers. Two years later, they had to install two more public and six for private charges as well as eight on a surface lot outside of the parking garage for the Sheriffs office. Their charging infrastructure grew as their fleet grew in EVs and hybrid vehicles.

The experience of implementing alternative fuel and electric vehicles into Franklin County’s fleet has been very positive. The only hurdles they have had to face has been acknowledging range anxiety and ensuring that their team and drivers are on board with the switch and will utilize the vehicles. They also find maintenance to be somewhat of an issue as there are not enough mechanics that know how to work on their hybrid vehicles. Other than those few issues, the use of these vehicles in their fleet has been a great experience for those involved and has even resulted in employees purchasing their own hybrid or electric vehicles for personal use.

Outputs and Outcomes

The outputs from Franklin County’s implementation of alternative fuels and electric vehicles in their fleet include having a vision as to where they want to go and what their goals are, having an upfront conversation with those involved to ensure their partners are on the same page, reaching out to CFO for resources and consulting, as well as thinking through charging before they purchased their plug-in vehicles. The major outcome is more employee purchasing or considering purchasing their own personal EV or HEVs.

Best Practices & Lessons Learned

  1. Know what you need and want before you buy. For example, consider what size vehicle you need or how much you may need to haul. 
  2. Consider where you plan to be and where you plan to charge the vehicle. There are places that may not have charger or only have a few. 
  3. Ensure you have the capability to install chargers.
  4. Plan your infrastructure and details before you purchase an EV.

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Franklin County Fleet Story

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