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Under new law, some of Virginia’s government fleet is poised to go electric

Rare bipartisan support for state decisions based on ‘total cost of ownership’ rather than sticker price
The Biden administration’s goal to have half of all U.S. vehicles be electric by 2030, will...
The Biden administration’s goal to have half of all U.S. vehicles be electric by 2030, will require increased production of minerals such as lithium, nickel and cobalt used in batteries.(Sarah Vogelsong/Virginia Mercury)
Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 8:41 AM EDT
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(Virginia Mercury) - A new state law could jump-start the conversion of much of Virginia’s government vehicle fleet from gas-powered to electric cars by asking state officials to look at a vehicle’s lifetime costs rather than just its sticker price before buying.

“We believe this will drive more electric vehicles out there,” Sen. Monty Mason, D-Williamsburg and the law’s patron, told a Senate panel this winter. “We believe it will save money for governments.”

Virginia lawmakers remain divided on party lines when it comes to incentivizing electric vehicle purchases or adopting California-developed vehicle standards that aim to push manufacturers away from the internal combustion engine.

But during this year’s legislative session, they unanimously agreed to Mason’s Senate Bill 575, a measure signed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin that orders many state agencies to buy or lease electric cars rather than gas-powered ones unless a lifetime cost calculator “clearly indicates” that the gas version is cheaper.

“You really are going after pure economic analysis in comparing these vehicles before they’re being purchased,” said Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Stafford, during committee hearings.

“That’s the gig,” Mason replied. “It’s not really a focus on electric vehicles as much as it is which costs less to operate over the period of time you’re going to operate it.”

Electric vehicles — and increasing the number of them on Virginia’s roads — nevertheless were the driving force behind the legislation, which was signed by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin this May.

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NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news...
NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news organization covering state government and policy.(Virginia Mercury)

Copyright 2022 WWBT/Virginia Mercury. All rights reserved.

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