California-based Vision Fleet is back in service to the city government of Indianapolis following a halt to the original program. Vision Fleet had supplied over 200 electric vehicles to various city departments until a dispute over the original contract arose between the City-County Council and the Indianapolis mayor’s office. Following a quickly-settled lawsuit, Vision Fleet bid on the project and will move forward with a new contract. “It was a good opportunity to make a lot of improvements, based on our earlier experience,” explains CEO Michael Brylawski.
Brylawski admits his company reconsidered entering into a continuing relationship with the city, but says his team was excited about the technical and operational performance of the program. Vision Fleet was the only bidder under the new procurement process and renegotiated the contract.
“We simplified the shared savings,” explains Brylawski. “Now every time the city drives an electric mile, they get four cents back, in just a simple rebate.” The old contract was for a specific number of vehicles, but the parties removed that mandate, with the goal being to replace as many vehicles as possible when there’s an actual savings to the city. “If you look at other fleets in America, with the 212 vehicles currently in the fleet, that’s one of the largest –if not the largest fleet – public fleets of electric vehicles in the country. Every new vehicle builds on Indianapolis’ leadership in operating a fleet of electric vehicles.”
The city’s electric vehicles, called Freedom Fleet, just passed the two million-mile mark with over 50,000 charging events, saving approximately 60,000 gallons of gasoline and improving overall cost compared to the vehicles they replaced by 14 percent.
The new contract is also reduced from seven years to four, but Brylawski hopes that, by the program continuing to prove its merits, that can be extended. “We see the technology improving. Over the years new products will come to markets, which would allow us to help adopt more types of vehicles into the fleet.”
Vision Fleet procures all its fleet vehicles – Chevy Volts, Ford Fusion Energis and Nissan Leafs – in local markets, and all are made in America.
“Indianapolis’ leadership, with Mayor Ballard and continuing with Mayor (Joe) Hogsett, I think really has set a very powerful example, and I think the people of Indianapolis should be excited about it because of the example the fleet has set for other cities.” Brylawski says other entities are starting electric vehicle fleet projects based on Indianapolis’ example, including Los Angeles, New York City and the US Navy. “It’s been very exciting to work with the city of Indy on something that’s been very pioneering.”
Vision Fleet has just launched a new service called Evercar, based on much of the work done with the city fleet in Indianapolis. The project takes the infrastructure and technological information from Indianapolis and overlays it onto a commercial, on-demand system of pure electric vehicles. Circling back, Brylawski expects to see information from Evercar that will allow Vision Fleet to incorporate pure electric vehicles into the Indianapolis fleet, potentially lowering costs over 20 percent.
Vision Fleet CEO Michael Brylawski explains the telematics found in the Indianapolis city vehicles.