The Port Authority has added at least 220 electric vehicles to its light duty fleet, marking a significant milestone in the agency’s efforts to electrify 50 percent of the fleet by 2030 and underscoring the agency’s commitment to sustainability.
“It’s a huge accomplishment,” said Kevin Niranjan, an auto engineer with the agency. “We still have more to go but we plan on having, at least in the next month, over 220 electric vehicles in service, well on our way to 50 percent of our light duty vehicles.”
The light duty fleet, around 1,200 vehicles, includes Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) cruisers and the sedans, SUVs and pickup trucks used by managers agency-wide for transportation around its facilities.
The 200th electric vehicle (EV) went online in June.
The process of electrifying the authority fleet began in 2019, when market availability of electric vehicles posed some early challenges, according to Niranjan. However, as fully electric vehicles have risen in popularity, the Port Authority has accelerated its acquisition efforts, helping to lead the electrification charge in the industry.
In tandem, the Port Authority’s Central Automotive Division (CAD) has worked to ensure that there are an adequate number of charging stations to accommodate the growing number of electric vehicles.
“In the beginning, we were rolling with the punches and pushing for charging stations as quickly as we could,” Niranjan said. “Now, we’ve been able to get ahead of it and have a really good understanding of the needed infrastructure.”
CAD has also implemented two EV solar arcs, which are entirely renewable, off-grid charging stations. Niranjan said he would love to see the department acquire more in the future.
Each electric vehicle replaces a diesel or gas engine currently in service, which would emit over 8,000 grams of CO2 tail pipe emissions per gallon of fuel, according to the EPA. An electric vehicle produces zero grams.
Carbon dioxide is one of the worst contributors to global warming and any efforts to abate its emission into the atmosphere poses an effective attack against climate change.
Niranjan says that CAD’s electrification efforts are an important part of the authority’s commitment to the goals laid out in the Paris Climate Accord, a loyalty the authority has upheld despite the federal government’s waffling adherence in recent years.
Now, the Biden administration has re-entered the agreement and recommitted to aggressive climate goals. The agency, too, is making strides on its climate goals; with plans to reduce its emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
Beyond the environmental benefits, electric vehicles are also far easier to maintain, Niranjan explained. While a gasoline vehicle has about 1,800 moving parts, an electric vehicle only has around 20, resulting in an increase in in-service time and a decrease in needed warehouse management.
Moreover, electric vehicles are just an enjoyable ride. “The first time I got in one I wasn’t sure if the car had started or not, it was that quiet,” Niranjan said. “Then, when you’re driving it’s just instantaneous acceleration, you put your foot on the gas and the car is just moving. It’s a lot of fun.”
In the future, CAD is planning on exploring electric alternatives for its medium- and heavy-duty vehicles as well, which includes garbage trucks and road sweepers.
“We really want to stay ahead of the curve.” Niranjan said. “The Port Authority has been a leader in sustainability for years, and we’re committed to keeping it that way.”