When Hamilton Council approved the 2022 budget earlier this month, they effectively gave the green light to a staff proposal to take the first steps in converting the city’s vehicle fleet to battery electric vehicles (BEVs). This is in keeping with the decision by council to declare an environmental emergency in 2019. At the Bay Area Climate Change Summit the city set a target “that all diesel vehicles be decommissioned by 2030 and all vehicles electrified by 2050.”
A consultant’s report commissioned by the city says battery electric vehicle technology has advanced to a point where Hamilton should immediately cease replacing internal combustion engine vehicles with battery electric vehicles.
He initial plan would see 89 internal combustion type-engines to be converted to Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) to be replaced in 2022 to 2024. The first phase is to target light-duty vehicles. The initiative means Hamilton must also invest in Electric Vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, some of which qualifies for financial assistance from the federal government, The EV Project with a total cost of $600K would result in the installation of a total of 49 charging stations scattered at various city works yards across the city.
The consultant’s report notes that despite the higher purchase cost of EVs, the maintenance and fuelling charges are much less. The report notes, “(Internal combustion) powered vehicles will quickly become outdated as battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) rapidly take over. BEVs have a fraction of the moving parts of an ICE vehicle, cost far less to maintain, offer better performance, and can cost far less to operate. Concurrently, BEV prices are coming down; it is believed that BEVs may reach price-parity with ICEs as soon as 2025. The report suggests prolonging the life cycle of the current gas and diesel fleet to allow the cost of their battery-electric replacements to drop.
In terms of the availability of EV’s at a time of supply chain shortages the report states, “Today, only light-duty (cars, SUVs), transit buses and a handful of medium- and heavy-duty (MHD) truck BEV models are available. However, by 2022 the types of vehicles that comprise a major portion of the Hamilton fleet, including pickup trucks, will be available as BEVs. And by 2024, BEVMHD truck offerings will be more plentiful. The time is now to begin preparing for the transition to BEVs.
The conversion being recommended applies to the city’s fleet of light duty vehicles, vans, pickups, small dump trucks and the like. There is also a rapid push nation-wide towards battery -powered buses, which are being subsidized by the federal government. Police, fire and ambulance vehicles are not part of the initial conversion strategy.