Federal Employees Directed to Rent EVs and Take Trains Instead of Planes

Federal Employees Directed to Rent EVs and Take Trains Instead of Planes


President Joe Biden has instructed federal employees to use electric vehicles (EVs) whenever possible when working in an official capacity as part of sustainability efforts and a push to get 50 percent of all new vehicles by 2030 to be electric.

The White House on Dec. 14 released new federal employee travel guidelines directing workers to use sustainable transportation methods for official and local travel, both domestically and internationally, whenever possible, as part of an effort to “lead by example on climate.”

The guidance calls on federal employees to rent EVs when traveling in an official capacity “when the cost of the EV is less than or equal to the most affordable comparable vehicle available.”

Employees are also asked to choose cost-competitive EV options where available when using taxis and ride-share platforms as this will “save taxpayer money and reduce pollution that jeopardizes people’s health and fuels the climate crisis,” according to the White House.

Federal employees are also being asked to travel by train for trips less than 250 miles when cost-effective and available, as opposed to taking an airplane or vehicle.

Additionally, federal workers are directed to increase public transit use, including subway, bus, and light rail and conducting local travel, or when they arrive at the location.

Government Is ‘Leading by Example’

The White House also noted that California will join the government in issuing guidance by June 2024 to state employees, encouraging them to use zero emission vehicle commercial rentals “where available and operationally feasible.”

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“As the Nation’s largest employer and with an annual business travel purchasing power of $2.8 billion, the Federal Government is leading by example by shifting to cleaner transportation options, including American-made electric vehicles and charging infrastructure,” the White House said.

In 2022, U.S. government employees spent $2.8 billion on official travel, taking more than 2.8 million flights, 2.3 million vehicle rentals, and 33,000 rail trips, according to the Office of Management and Budget. That includes $1.66 billion on flights, $4.2 million on rail trips, and $791 million on vehicle rentals.

That represents 1.8 percent of the federal greenhouse gas footprint.

“These new commitments will save taxpayers money by increasing the use of EVs and taking other cost-effective actions on clean transportation associated with business travel for the Federal workforce,” the White House said.

The latest guidance is part of a broader push by the Biden administration to reduce emissions by 50 to 52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

EV Sales Up ‘Nearly 70 Percent’

In December 2021, President Biden issued an executive order directing the government to transition to zero-emission vehicles by 2035 and said all light-duty federal vehicle acquisitions should be electric or plug-in hybrid by 2027.

In its announcement Thursday, the White House said EV sales have tripled under President Biden’s leadership, while the number of publicly available charging ports has grown by nearly 70 percent since he took office.

However, the Consumer Reports 2022 Annual Auto Reliability survey found that electric vehicles, including those from Tesla, are among some of the least reliable sold in the United States.

That survey also found that owners of electric vehicles reported issues with charging systems, batteries, and electric motors. EVs also have issues with range and reliability while standard chargers take a few hours to fully charge one vehicle.

Meanwhile, car dealerships have claimed that consumers are simply not purchasing EVs, in part owing to the high price, despite the government push.

Speaking to Fox News in November, Tom Maoli, the founder of New Jersey-based auto group Celebrity Motor Cars, said, “Consumers are not buying into the electric vehicle market right now because the infrastructure is not there, they’re concerned about the range, and it’s 20 to 30 percent higher [prices] to buy the vehicle.”

“With the mandates they are putting in place, they are forcing the consumer to buy something that they don’t want,” Mr. Maoli added.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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