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City fleet’s 30% goal puts Seattle electric car initiative into first gear

Mayor Ed Murray and City Council member Mike O’Brien test drove an electric vehicle this week to celebrate progress on Seattle’s electric car initiative, a plan that includes improving the infrastructure for EVs, electrifying the city’s own vehicle fleet, and continuing Seattle’s ongoing conquest to cut carbon emissions and pollution from transit.

In the video of the stunt, we learn Murray does the driving in this relationship, neither of these guys drive very often, Murray owns a Subaru Forester, and O’Brien can spout EV trivia like Rain Man. We also learn that the City Council’s Transportation and Sustainability committee Wednesday approved a resolution “which sets a goal to have 30% of all light-duty vehicles in Seattle operate under electric power by the year 2030.” The EV champions Murray and O’Brien also “announced their intention to significantly expand electric vehicle infrastructure in Seattle, such as charging stations, to encourage and serve the electric vehicle demand.”

“The 30% by 2030 goal is the most ambitious target set by any United States city, intended to address the growing threat of climate change by reducing Seattle’s carbon footprint,” the press release on the committee vote and initiative reads.

Murray’s office says the mayor will include funds in the 2017-18 operating budget proposal “to install 20 fast chargers for electric vehicles for public use, geographically spread throughout the city.” The budget proposal will also include $2.35 million for 150 new electric vehicle charging stations in the Seattle Municipal Tower, and for planning for installing additional infrastructure to support the city’s electric vehicle fleet. Seattle City Hall currently employs 80 fully electric vehicles, 17 plug-in hybrids, and over 500 conventional hybrid vehicles — “one of the largest electric vehicle fleets in the country,” the announcement touts.

CHS reported on the EV initiative earlier this year. Despite the City of Seattle’s progress, publicly accessible electric vehicle charging stations aren’t abundant throughout the city. Downtown Seattle has a heavy concentration of primarily AC Level 2 charging stations (which give a twenty mile charge every hour) and a few DC fast charge stations (these give a faster, fifty mile charge after twenty minutes). Capitol Hill is home a handful, with two DC fast charge stations in the Harvard Market parking garage on Broadway, one fast charge station in the REO Flats parking garage on 14th, and several level 2 chargers in the Central Co-Op parking garage on Madison. But the Central District, and all of Southeast Seattle were devoid of any charging stations as of this spring.

Jessica Finn Coven, director of the city’s Office of Sustainability and Environment, told CHS the initiative’s projects and investment proposals will be examined by Seattle’s Equity and Environment Steering Committee.

“It’s both demand and it’s accessibility,” Finn Coven told CHS earlier this year. “We want people to get to those chargers, we want people to know they’re there.”


The resolution on the city’s electric fleet passed Wednesday will be considered by the full city council on Monday, September 19th.

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3 thoughts on “City fleet’s 30% goal puts Seattle electric car initiative into first gear

  1. Ironic metaphor given that the Nissan LEAF they were driving doesn’t have a transmission (only reduction gears).

    Boosting quick-chargers will help ride-sharing companies like Lyft which intends to deploy the (self-driving?!) Bolt EV. I bet they’ll be hogging the stations unless they’re restricted somehow.