Sidney’s conversion to more electric vehicles will require more electric vehicle chargers, a new report finds (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Sidney charges up conversion of municipal vehicle fleet

Availability of charging stations, vehicle types and maintenance may be barriers

Sidney wants to drive its vehicle fleet into an electric future as part of its climate action plan, but might hit several roadblocks along the way.

That is one of the messages found in a new report in which staff detail efforts to speed up the conversion of Sidney’s fleet of light-duty vehicles to electric vehicles.

Issues concern the number of charging stations, the availability of vehicle types, and access to maintenance.

Jenn Clary, Sidney’s director of engineering, said in the report that staff expects multiple new electric vehicle types to become available within a few years, as the electric vehicle industry is quickly evolving. But Sidney’s conversion to more electric vehicles will require more electric vehicle chargers at both Sidney’s Town Hall and works yard.

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Another issue is the availability of certain vehicle types. Consider the following example. Sidney’s fire department operates five special service vehicles and to “staff’s knowledge, there are currently no electric special service vehicles available for purchase,” said Clary.

And when electric vehicles are available, access to maintenance becomes an issue.

Sidney currently has four cargo vans that run on gas, with one of those vans scheduled for replacement in 2020. While staff are aware of several possible options for purchase, future maintenance needs must be considered. “If very little of the maintenance can be done in house, this may not be an attractive option,” said Clary.

A comparable picture emerges when it comes to pickup trucks, whose “versatility” allows staff to perform multiple jobs, said Clary, adding that the the need for pickup trucks won’t go away.

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But manufacturers have not focused on trucks suitable for fleet use, she said. While Sidney currently has a replacement budget between $30,000 and $35,000, models available will likely cost a minimum of $60,000 to $80,000.

“Another downside to purchasing an electric vehicle from a new brand, such as a Tesla or a Rivian, is that the Town will have limited ability to maintain them in house,” she said. “Tesla, for example, does not currently have a repair shop on Vancouver lsland, so major repairs would require staff to drive the pickup truck to Vancouver to be repaired.”

Tesla’s Cybertruck presented just days after Clary had prepared her report has a starting price of $39,900 (US), topping out at $69,900.

Council received the report and asked staff to apply for grants that would allow the municipality to increase the number of charging stations.

Sidney operates one electric car, two gasoline-electric hybrid SUVs, five gasoline specials service vehicles, four gasoline cargo vans and 13 gasoline pickup trucks.


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