Yesterday New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg showed the Big Apple is fully on board with the many benefits of hybrid and electric vehicles, as he announced the city’s acquisition of 50 Chevrolet Volts.

The new Volts were part of a total 70 new battery-petrol-powered vehicles to join the city’s fleet which now totals 430 advanced-tech cars and trucks.

Along with the Chevrolets, the city’s order includes 10 battery-powered Ford Transit Connect cargo vans and 10 Navistar eStar electric utility trucks. The Navistar vehicles are being leased for two years at $1 per year, the mayor said.

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announces the addition of 50 new Chevrolet Volt electric vehicles to the city's fleet.
In addition to the gift/lease from Navistar, Bloomberg noted funding for the new vehicles came from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the New York Power Authority.

As for the Volts, they will be used in a number of functions, including as the first electric police cars, according to Chevrolet. The city also uses electric scooters and golf carts where practical.

"This is the latest and largest-ever addition of electric vehicles to the city’s fleet, which is already the largest municipal clean-air vehicle fleet in the nation,” Bloomberg said in a press statement . “We will continue to lead by example, but we also must provide New Yorkers with tools to make environmentally friendly choices in their own lives.

The mayor’s announcement was made at the EV charger-equipped sanitation department repair facility in Maspeth, Queens.

He said there are a host of reasons why New Yorkers – and, by extension, Americans – should embrace EVs and hybrids.

"I can quickly run out of fingers counting the benefits of electric vehicles,” Bloomberg said. Among reasons cited were an effort to reduce greenhouse gases and global warming and the mayor said New York’s goal is to reduce its overall carbon footprint by 30 percent by 2017.

Carlos Francica, a New York Department of Sanitation worker, cleans the front windshield of an electric vehicle before the start of the press conference.

A reduction in tailpipe emissions also improves basic air standards, Bloomberg said, which will stand to ameliorate present rates of respiratory illness and heart disease.

Bloomberg noted each Volt will also save about 4,000 gallons of gasoline the city estimates will equal about $15,000 in the life of each car.

Calling the Volts "hybrid" vehicles, Bloomberg said the intent was nonetheless to operate them as EVs by limiting them to under 35 miles per day in all-electric mode. By using them at this easygoing daily rate, the mayor said he expects them to last 10 years, a rather long time for a fleet vehicle.

Another big reason for endorsing EVs, the mayor said, is to reduce dependence on petroleum. He noted the U.S. now imports about 50 percent of its oil, and this puts the country in a vulnerable position – an obvious statement to readers of this site, but one some would agree cannot be stated often enough, particularly from those in positions of influence.

Speaking of which, the mayor’s announcement was staged at the same time New Yorkers were planning to see a free screening of "Revenge of the Electric Car" in Central Park later yesterday evening.

In what was a major thrust for EVs yesterday, the mayor also announced a New York-based Web site to inform people about their choices. Bloomberg encouraged New Yorkers to check into battery-electrics and hybrids, saying research shows 20 percent would consider one if fully informed on their benefits vs. cost.

“When provided with the facts, people become far more likely to choose an electric vehicle. Our job is to ensure the public has the facts, ensure they can make their own decisions and ensure that if they want to drive an electric vehicle, we are providing the infrastructure needed. It’s all part of our PlaNYC agenda to create a greener, greater New York City.”

Mayor Bloomberg holds a power cord used to recharge the battery of a Chevrolet Volt during the press conference. For a full video (we were not able to embed) you can go to New York's Web site to see it in low res or high res .

The city said the new vehicles will be used by city agencies, including the departments of sanitation, corrections, parks, environmental protection, transportation, police and fire. New York taxi companies also operate a growing fleet of over 4,980 hybrid taxis.

To help charge the city's fleet, the New York Times reported New York now has 70 EV charging stations, installed with assistance from the Energy Department.

Overall, Bloomberg said New York intends to remain a leader in the acceptance and proliferation of hybrid and electric vehicles.

GM , Wheels Blog , New York City Web site