Location: Orange County, FL
Fleet Type: Public (County Government)

 

Narrative

Orange County is the most populated county in the Central Florida region with 13 towns and cities within its borders, including the state’s fourth largest city, Orlando. The county has been an active Clean Cities stakeholder since the inception of the coalition, and has had leadership roles in many initiatives that positioned central Florida as one of the top 10 EV ready regions in the country.

In 2010, Orlando was one of nine cities selected nationwide to receive a portion of ChargePoint America’s $37 million grant to ramp up the charging infrastructure necessary to support the new highway-ready electric vehicles entering the market. Orange County helped secure the grant and officially joined Project Get Ready, a non-profit initiative led by Rocky Mountain Institute, that helps communities become EV pioneers. By the end of 2010, 300 charging stations were installed throughout central Florida. With that robust infrastructure, the region was able to secure earlier than planned delivery of EVs that had been targeted for the West Coast.

The Orange County Government Sustainable Operations & Resilience Action Plan sets a clear strategy to transition their fleet to alternative fuels and electric vehicles, while also enhancing infrastructure throughout key transportation corridors. This community focused approach enables the county to build a community of the future while addressing internal operational, budget, and sustainability goals. For example, they have begun a strategic transition to alternative fuel, hybrid and electric vehicles across the county’s fleet, while collaborating to drastically increase access to infrastructure in the community. They have also established the goal of converting 100% of its light-duty fleet to electric or alternative fuel by 2030.

Currently, the county has six EVs, with eight more on order, including Chevy Bolts, E-Transits, and F-150s. They also have 22 hybrid electric vehicles and 590 flex fuel (E-85) vehicles. The county’s vehicle fleet comprises over 2,000 vehicles, including 350 take home vehicles. County fleet operations does not include law enforcement, emergency response, and transit vehicles, including school buses. The county has a Vehicle Utilization and Replacement Committee (VURC) that approves every vehicle purchase. Fleet management works with every department in the county to assist in their vehicle purchase decisions. As many others have concluded, now that the OEMs are now moving towards and committing to EV manufacturing, electrification of the fleet is in their best interests. Ongoing support from the manufacturer and dealer is important in the overall procurement decision, as is total cost of ownership and infrastructure availability.

Outputs and Outcomes

Orange County is achieving its goal of deploying EV-ready infrastructure. The county, the City of Orlando and Power Electronics collaborated to create the largest high-speed charging facility in Florida. The Robinson Recharge Mobility Hub, which opened July 2023, is located in downtown Orlando near I-4. The facility features 21 high-speed EV chargers that can be used for all makes of EVs. Funds from a $500,000 grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection were used to partially pay for the hub. EV charger manufacturer Power Electronics, the City of Orlando and Orange County, helped secure that grant. Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) and Power Electronics covered the remaining project costs and OUC donated property for the hub. The hub will enable EVs to “top off” their charge in 10 minutes and be fully charged in 20-60 minutes.

Orange County attributes its success to collaboration with the region’s strategic partners, including its municipal utility (OUC), its investor owned utility (Duke Energy Florida), its transportation planning organization (MetroPlan), its transit agency (LYNX), and its district office of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). Fleet management treats the end-users of their vehicles as the customer, and assists each department with the purchasing decision. They look at how the vehicles are used and provide scenarios for transitioning to electric. They caution against making the decision to purchase an EV just for the sake of doing so – if the vehicle doesn’t meet the need, it will not be used. Driver education is paramount. New EV drivers need reassurance that they can adapt to a new technology, and have ready access to charging infrastructure, including access to charging when emergency operations are activated for power outages and evacuations.

Best Practices & Lessons Learned

The strategic planning process allowed the county fleet department to plan early and engage with everyone, including both internal and external stakeholders. Goal setting needs to take into consideration the availability of vehicles and the ongoing support from dealers. While education of the end-users is important, transitioning current vehicle technicians to an EV fleet is a priority. This includes understanding and embracing the technology, ready access to training, and integrating telematics for EVs. The fleet department recently acquired a training kiosk so technicians can readily access self-paced training.

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Orange County representatives that contributed to this story: Bryan Lucas, Fleet Manger and Carrie Black, Chief Sustainability & Resilience Officer. Special recognition to John Parker, Sr. Environmental Specialist, for his decades of support of the Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition.

PDF Version

Orange County Fleet Story

post contents

Read More Fleet Success Stories