The City of New Westminster’s fleet consists of 227 vehicles and equipment. 163 are actual vehicles and 29 are motorized equipment such as mowers, Zambonis, rollers, compressors etc. We’ve been working to improve the fleet using new technologies for some time. We started converting replacement vehicles to propane in 2013, as of now we have 53 pick-ups, vans, heavy and medium duty trucks and 94% of the police patrol SUV’s all running on propane. Another 9 vehicles that are currently on their way to us will all be converted to propane as well. This means by year’s end over a third of entire vehicle fleet will be converted. (62 out of 163 vehicles). There are only 15 more vehicles eligible for propane within the next 5-10 years.Therefore we are at 80% compatible vehicles will be converted by year’s end. Most motorized equipment can’t be converted or have no hybrid options available yet. We have 6 heavy duty diesels with propane systems connected. These five garbage trucks and one street sweeper have reduced diesel fuel consumption and GHG’s by 48%.
There are six heavy duty utility vans running strictly on propane, as well one medium duty tow truck, and three medium duty dump trucks. Propane is a lot cheaper than gasoline or diesel, our cost is locked in at $0.55/L. It is a very clean and safe fuel; we can also prolong the service intervals of vehicles because of this.”The greatest reward is propane is 30% less polluting GHGs than gasoline and 40% less than diesel,” says Kevin Thorpe, Supervisor of City of New Westminster Fleet Services.
The City has purchased two electric cars and one mini truck for the parks yard, and also has two fully electric runabouts and three Zambonis.
“I am interested in pursuing more electric vehicles in the future. The problem is what’s available now. There are very few models and even less for next year. No one makes an electric van, pick-up truck or any medium duty trucks, and I don’t foresee any until at least 2020. We also have very little need for cars in the fleet, but I have started with the electrical department to get an early jump on the infrastructure needed when models become available. No sense buying electrics if we can’t plug them in anywhere convenient,” says Thorpe.
The City of New Westminster has purchased ten hybrid cars and SUVs which have worked out quite well until a fully electric model can replace them. Also both of the two newest fire trucks and the arborist aerial truck are hybrids as well. The fire trucks utilize a hybrid generator system that can shut down the main engine and run everything off a much smaller generator engine. These trucks commonly idle for long periods at medical or accident calls so this can save thousands of engine idle hours and lots of money. The arborist is a battery plug-in hybrid, so it can run for hours entirely on the battery system and not need have the truck running at high idle to operate the hydraulics.
Thorpe says “I always attempt to downsize a replacement vehicle if possible, either in size, engine size, hybrid or electrical models or assess whether the vehicle is needed at all.”
GPS has also been utilized in most of the city vehicles (about 100 now, excluding the police and fire trucks). This has greatly helped in unnecessary idling, vehicle placement for emergencies and for notifications of problems such as a check engine light or low tire pressure. We can also track the vehicle mileage more efficiently so the vehicles aren’t overdue for service.
Here’s a gallery of some of the vehicles in the fleet.