Location: Cary, NC
Fleet Type: Light-duty Electric Vehicles

 

Narrative

The Town of Cary is in Wake County, North Carolina, like Raleigh, the state’s capital city. Cary has around 1,200 employees, 13 in the Town’s Public Works fleet division, and a Professional Energy Managers. 

The fleet includes approximately 650 vehicles and heavy trucks. Off-road equipment such as mowers, golf carts, and other grounds maintenance equipment bring the total fleet to approximately 1,300.

Initially motivated by the 2012 Strategic Energy Action Plan and the goals for greenhouse gas and carbon emissions reductions, the Town has undertaken a significant initiative to integrate electric vehicles (EVs) into its fleet. There is a Fleet Efficiency Standard Operating Procedure reference for right-sizing vehicles, full fleet utilization, procurement expectations, and measurement of key metrics like fuel use, fuel cost, maintenance cost, and more. Cary has experienced significant savings in maintenance, such as eliminating oil changes, but there are traditional wear and tear and tire replacement expenses.

Vehicle charging infrastructure and use is a mixture of stations open to the public and some exclusively for fleet vehicles at all times or overnight charging. Currently, Cary does not allow employees to charge at home because it does not have a way to reimburse them fairly for energy use. Cary is considering developing a pilot with future EV transition plans. The cost of electric vs diesel or gasoline vehicles is difficult to estimate since not all chargers are networked.

Cary has used multiple funding sources to purchase vehicles. Two Teslas were purchased for a pilot using Federal Drug Enforcement Funds and forfeiture funds. The Teslas for police officers are not pursuit-rated, and the vehicles required some minor modifications and police-related up-fitting. The modifications have not impacted the range of the vehicle, including the use of lighting. Police use the EVs for patrol, traffic enforcement, and community engagement. There are four more with the Police Department for administrative officers.

The Town of Cary continues to focus on expanding its EV fleet as part of overall sustainability programming, including an online engagement hub, “Count me in, Cary!” to receive public input as staff drafts an updated sustainability and climate action strategy to present to the Town Council in winter 2024.

Outputs & Outcomes

Outputs:

Cary’s on-road fleet has 13 fully electric vehicles and many hybrid electric vehicles. Nine vehicles are Tesla’s distributed across departments. Six are with the police department, one with motor pool, and two with utilities. Two Nissan Leaf’s are in use by fleet motor pool and police. An E-Transit joined the fleet in 2023. A Ford Lightening Pick-up has been in service for 11 months. It has not yet been used with a trailer to determine if Ford’s estimate of range reduction of 50% is accurate.

Fleet services manages vehicle maintenance for any work that does not void the warranty. Some staff attended training by outside organizations, and anyone working with high voltage received in-house training. The town is working with the NC Clean Energy Technology Center and Wake Tech Community College to host more in-depth training at the Town of Cary that will be open to other fleets in the region. Staff is awaiting delivery of a fully electric waste management/recycling compactor truck paid for with DERA grant funds. It has taken multiple attempts to find a manufacturer that is able to produce the vehicle.

Outcomes:

To date, the Town is identifying options for measuring outcomes with fleet electrification. Of the three EVs they are tracking, they have used 1600 kWh of electricity since 2023.

Best Practices & Lessons Learned

Communication is essential for users to embrace EVs and for infrastructure development. Fleet services maintained an open line of communication with two police officers over the first six months to identify what modifications were required to make the vehicles of the electric vehicle meet the standards of the previous standard police vehicle.

Early planning and ongoing collaboration with utilities are also necessary for effective charging infrastructure planning, development, and launch. Prepare for future expansion of charging stations with any development or construction to accommodate growth at the best locations and to prevent the cost of digging twice. 

In working with grant funds and purchasing, maintain a good working relationship with partners in case the unexpected occurs. When there were issues with the order delivery for the recycling truck, Cary staff worked directly with DEQ and EPA staff to ensure open communication to address concerns regarding the Town’s required cost match as the vehicle price increased.

References

To find more information on the Town of Cary’s sustainability programming, including transportation greenhouse gas emissions, view the Sustainable and Resilient Cary webpage: https://www.carync.gov/projects-initiatives/sustainable-resilient-cary.

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Town of Cary Fleet Story

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