Electric Vehicle Fleet Adoption


April 13th, 2023

Post by Donna Marbury, Smart Columbus Storyteller

Helping municipalities understand the benefits of fleet electric vehicle (EV) adoption can be challenging, as many are on procurement cycles, and overturning a large fleet can be a bureaucratic and expensive task. However, the City of Columbus has created a Universal Term Contract (UTC) that is being used regionally in order to ensure that cities of all sizes can take part in Smart Columbus’ EV fleet efforts. 

The combination of an innovative contract and persistence from the city and partner organizations resulted in the procurement of more than half of the EVs the city committed to. 

City of Columbus public fleet EV commitments
One of Smart Columbus’ goals is to introduce 300 EVs into public fleets by 2020. The City of Columbus has taken the lead in these efforts by committing to procure 200 EVs. For its first procurement, the City of Columbus acquired 93 EVs and intends to deploy Level 2 charging infrastructure in three locations for exclusive use of the EV fleet vehicles. 

Collaborative efforts to support EV adoption
The procurement was a team effort, with the city’s Fleet Management division working closely with city stakeholders to match vehicles to the needs of city divisions, the Electrification Coalition providing EV suitability analyses for the vehicles using existing city telematics data, and Clean Fuels Ohio providing education, outreach and training programs to support the process. 

Laying the foundation for regional adoption
The city developed a request for proposal (RFP) that allowed bidders to offer innovative financial arrangements in their proposals. Following the RFP, the city developed an innovative vehicle acquisition program that allowed the city to lease vehicles for a short period followed by a title transfer to the city, attain vehicle pricing at triple-net dealer invoice, and capture a portion of the federal EV tax credit. The program is a UTC for vehicle procurement, which could be used by any local public entity in Ohio. 

Details of the Universal Term Contract
The UTC is a 12-month lease with one payment at the outset and one at the end of the lease; the vehicle titles are then transferred to the city. The contract also allows city employees to purchase EVs at a reduced price to encourage the greater adoption of EVs in the region. 

The UTC developed by the City of Columbus can be implemented by public agencies outside of Ohio and demonstrates a viable way to reduce the acquisition costs of EVs across jurisdictions. 
Smart Columbus credits the success of the first procurement to working closely with the city divisions, with city officials on the lease and purchase agreement terms, and with key project partners on analysis, education, and outreach. 

Download the entire Smart Columbus’ Public Fleet Case Study from below to read more details about how to structure and deploy public EV fleet adoption and universal term contracts.

Playbook Resources


Sign up here to stay up-to-date on the latest from Smart Columbus.