Fort Sam Houston received 20 Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) in January as part of a larger plan to replace petroleum-based DoD vehicles with more “energy-efficient” transportation.
In 2007, former President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13423 – “Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management.” For federal agencies operating a fleet of at least 20 vehicles, the Order mandated reduced petroleum usage by 2% through the end of 2015, and an increase in non-petroleum fuel consumption by 10%. Plug in Hybrids would be utilized when such vehicles were comparable, on the basis of life-cycle costs, to non-PIHs.
The NEV’s 40-V battery allows for a top speed of 25 MPH, with a range of 30 miles. Essentially, these are souped-up golf carts, and serve a similar purpose. While the NEVs aren’t highway-legal, they’re perfect for short-distance travel on post. The NEVs compliment Fort Sam Houston’s existing stock of electric vehicles, a two-seat utility truck and a four-seat passenger vehicle.
According to the Fort Sam Houston Directorate of Public Works' Environmental Office, the electrical vehicles have been invaluable. “We use them for short-distance trips,” said Hazardous Waste Manager Bill Burton. “They can go anywhere around the main post, so they operate very well for us.”
The Army projects significant cost savings, as well as environmental benefits, in switching to electric. According to the Army, electric vehicles incur yearly costs of $460 vs. $1,200 for fossil-fuel-burning cars. And by reducing fossil fuel consumption by 11.5 million gallons overall during a six-year period, the Army will cut down on 115,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
The Army plans on replacing up to 28,000 gas-powered ground support vehicles with electric vehicles at more than 155 Army installations worldwide.