The US electric vehicle market received a major boost late last week, when two of the country's largest energy firms announced that they were to switch their entire vehicle fleet over to electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles over the next 10 years.
FPL Group and Duke Energy said that by 2020 they would transition their entire fleets - totalling over 10,000 vehicles - over to low carbon models, cutting greenhouse gas emissions by more than 125,000 metric tons in the process.
The companies said they were currently looking for suppliers to come forward with proposals on which vehicles they should purchase. "The more organisations that join this initiative, the more we can develop a sustainable transportation future," said Lew Hay, chief executive of FPL.
The two firms said plans to purchase electric or plug in hybrid passenger vehicles and smaller trucks were already underway, adding that they now intend to work closely with manufacturers to test and measure the effectiveness of prototype electric trucks from 2011.
Jim Rogers, chief executive of Duke Energy, said that the high profile commitment would provide auto firms with the guaranteed demand they need to step up investments in electric vehicles.
"Currently, the only near-term options for available PEV (plug in electric vehicle) supply are sedans, minivans, vans and a few bucket trucks. Over a 10-year horizon, it is expected that options will be available for most utility service categories," he said. "This commitment will provide the transportation industry the evidence that a robust market for PEVs exists."
Research from FPL suggests that electric vehicles, even if powered from a current grid mix, offer emissions reduction of up to 70 per cent over conventional vehicles.