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U.S. cities’ massive electric vehicle order increases to 114,000 vehicles, ~40 companies competing

We reported earlier this year on the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Ore., sending a request for information (RFI) to automakers for an electric car order of 24,000 vehicles.

It would have become the biggest electric car order ever, but several more cities have since joined the effort and they are now looking for 114,000 electric vehicles.

The idea is to counter the argument of automakers arguing that there’s no demand for electric vehicles. President Trump is going to Detroit today to reportedly announce that the EPA will review the fuel consumption standard at the request of those same automakers.

Wade Newton, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers which has been lobbying to review the standard, argues that automakers have been heavily investing in electric vehicles with 95 different models of hybrids and electric vehicles available, but “combined, those models were all outsold by a single model of pickup truck,” he added.

Of course, he doesn’t mention that most of those 95 models were low-volume compliance cars that weren’t built to be EVs but instead converted from existing gas-powered platforms.

The effort from the municipalities looks to show that “if you build them, we will buy them”. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is leading the effort and his chief sustainability officer Matt Petersen said in an email to Bloomberg:

“No matter what President Trump does or what happens in Washington, cities will continue leading the way on tackling climate change,”

The vehicles would include not only regular passenger cars, but also “police cruisers, street sweepers and trash haulers”. In total, close to 40 automakers, truck manufacturers and others are competing for the contracts.

In addition to the original four cities, New York, Boston, Denver, Kansas City and Houston have now joined among about a dozen more.

There are not that many electric vehicles today that could satisfy this kind of volume, but it could be quite impactful even if split into several smaller orders of ~10,000 vehicles. It wouldn’t change much for the production plans of a vehicle like the Model 3, which Tesla plans to produce at a rate of about 400,000 per year, but it could make a big difference for the Chevy Bolt EV, which GM only plans to produce at a rate of ~30,000 per year.

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