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Just How Electric Is California’s Government Vehicle Fleet?

California has a long way to go before state workers are driving all-electric cars and trucks.

In September, Gov. Gavin Newsom committed California’s state agencies to achieving net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2035. His signature on Senate Bill 1203 tasked the state’s Department of General Services with drawing up a plan for how to make that goal a reality.

Naturally, the state’s fleet of 35,702 vehicles was a prime target for decarbonization. But the transition won’t happen overnight.

According to agency data obtained through a Public Records Act request, California owns a total of 2,335 zero-emission vehicles, which include electric, fuel cell and plug-in hybrid models. Eighty of those vehicles were purchased in 2023, and departments bought nearly 500 in 2022.

Still, zero-emission vehicles make up only a small fraction of the state’s vehicles, which include everything from golf carts and sedans to big rigs and school buses. More than 93 percent of the state fleet still emits greenhouse gases to some extent (close to 87 percent of state vehicles are internal combustion engines, and 6 percent are hybrids).

The state bought more than 4,250 vehicles last fiscal year. The year before, departments acquired nearly 6,800. Fiscal year 2020-21 saw California purchase about 1,350 new autos for its fleet.

How many Teslas?

Teslas are ubiquitous on California’s roads, and a fraction of them are state-owned. The DGS data shows 554 Teslas in California’s active vehicle fleet. All of them are Model 3s, and the vast majority are the 2023 vintage. Most of the cars were purchased in 2022.

The California Department of Transportation owns the most Teslas of any department, with 399. The department owns by far the most vehicles of any state agency, with more than 9,600.

Trailing behind are the Department of Food and Agriculture with 40 Teslas, the Department of Public Health with 30, and the Department of Social Services with 18.

When does the state get rid of its vehicles?

According to the State Administrative Manual, departments are advised to replace their vehicles when they’ve hit a certain mileage or age threshold, whichever comes first.

Law enforcement vehicles should be replaced after the lesser of five years or 100,000 miles.

Sedans can go for six years, but only 65,000 miles. Minivans, on the other hand, are good for eight years or 80,000 miles.

When vehicles are ready to be retired, the state often sells them. Departments sold close to 1,900 vehicles during the last fiscal year. The year before, that number was just under 2,000. In fiscal year 2020-21, the state sold about 1,000 vehicles.

(c)2023 The Sacramento Bee. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.