Ev Rotterdam
Ev Rotterdam
Ev Rotterdam
Ev Rotterdam
Ev Rotterdam

Rotterdam's Municipal EV Fleet: Lessons for Utilities and Cities

Dec. 9, 2019
The Rotterdam city government has loudly and openly declared its commitment to rapidly phasing out conventionally fueled vehicles.

The city of Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands with more than 620,000 inhabitants. The city set a target to achieve a 25% share of electric or hybrid electric vehicles in the municipal fleet by 2014 to be a role model for inhabitants and other cities.

The Rotterdam city government has loudly and openly declared its commitment to rapidly phasing out conventionally fueled vehicles. This means that the city is looking for any possible way by which to increase the share of electric vehicles (EVs) whether in the form of 2-wheelers, 3-wheelers, or 4wheelers in the total volume of individual motorized transport. Some in the city are pushing for a goal of EVs constituting at least 30% of the total number of vehicles by 2030.

One reason the Rotterdam city government is so focused on accelerating the uptake of e-mobility is the Paris Agreement. Another perhaps less obvious reason is the fact that the city’s leaders – in business, in government, and in in the independent sector – have come to believe, almost without exception, that there is a great potential to create synergies between road safety, air quality, economic productivity, citizen access to services, and climate change mitigation.

Reducing air pollution, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing noise, reducing the consumption of increasingly expensive fossil fuels: EVs offer Rotterdam a promising alternative that can address these kinds of goals, while also contributing to a sustainable transport system. This municipality is actively encouraging the use of cleaner vehicles through the way the city manages its own fleets, specifically by introducing clean vehicles in the fleets of the municipal government and also of the municipal-owned enterprises. This requires energy efficiency and environmental performance to be considered for vehicle purchases.

Rotterdam is pushing to use EVs for collecting waste, cleaning streets and other local authority services. Vehicles in these fleets are very suitable for battery-electric drive systems because their operational range is usually limited and many of them are running on fixed routes. Furthermore, these vehicles are often parked in larger vehicle depots, so that charging infrastructure can be concentrated. Energy savings and emission reductions of EVs are particularly high in driving cycles with frequent stops and short distances.

By increasing the number of EVs in its fleet, Rotterdam now knows that the municipality can serve as role model for private enterprises in the city. By demonstrating the applicability of clean vehicles, the city is actively working to share its experience with new vehicle technologies. Besides reducing emissions, the operation of cleaner vehicles can also result in long-term cost savings.

Despite subsidies, investment costs for EVs can be higher than for conventional vehicles. However, due to lower operating and maintenance costs, the total costs of ownership can be lower than for convention- al vehicles. If electricity from city- owned renewable energy systems is used, economic and environmental benefits are even higher. The number of available EV types and models is rapidly increasing, however for special purpose vehicles, it might be necessary to convert from a combustion engine to an electric drive system or coordinate with manufacturers for custom- built vehicles. To select the optimal technology in terms of drive system (e.g. hybrid vs. all-electric), battery size and charging strategy municipalities must consider the operation purpose, the vehicle type and typical usage patterns.

As a first step, a city should analyze its existing fleet according to driving distances, the times when the vehicles are not being used, and operational purposes. Based on this, cities can identify vehicles that are suit- able to be substituted with electric ones, and charging infrastructure requirements. External experts can assist municipal fleet managers in this task and provide detailed planning and cost comparisons of different vehicles. Existing fleet management systems and routing might need to be adapted to account for charging requirements. Ideally, drivers and service staff should receive training to ensure they can properly handle the EVs. Cities can also cooperate with carsharing companies or leasing companies to reduce procurement and maintenance costs. Electric vehicles used by the municipality can be made available during weekends or evenings to municipal employees or the public (e.g. in carsharing schemes) to promote EVs among the public.

Municipal procurement guidelines may oblige departments and municipal enterprises to purchase fuel-efficient, low- emission vehicles. Especially where municipal enterprises operate local public transport, waste collection or street cleaning services, procurement guidelines are applied to large vehicle fleets. An accounting system was structured such that long-term savings remain with the investing department. This has the effect of increasing each department’s own ambitions to use clean and fuel-efficient vehicles. This is especially important, as investment costs for fuel-efficient or alternatively-fueled vehicles can be higher than for conventional vehicles. To avoid investment costs, alternatively, municipalities can substitute their vehicles for alternatively-fueled carsharing vehicles.

The city, is working closely, and in cooperation with, two private companies: a local energy supplier and a grid operator. Together with these partners, the city launched a trial with a total of 75 EVs and plug-in EVs and 100 drivers in 2012 and 2013. The city used the cars in the carpool of the companies and the municipality. These consisted mainly of passenger cars and light delivery vehicles. Rotterdam also installed 120 charging stations. The trial monitored the technical performance of the vehicles, and conducted surveys with the test drivers. The project was promoted at events, through brochures and a dedicated website. The city shared the lessons it learned with other professional fleet owners. Based on the experience during the trial, Rotterdam concluded that fully electric vehicles could replace 60 percent of the cars owned by the city. The two local energy suppliers who participated in the trial had larger-range requirements, which meant that only 18 and 27 percent of their fleet were suitable to be replaced by EVs.

Rotterdam says that the EVs drove more than 700,000 kilometers during the trial. This reduced the amount of CO2 the city’s vehicles emitted by 67%, and reduced particulate matter emissions by 10%. The trial also meant that the city completely stopped emitting NOx. This calculation considered well-to-wheel emissions and the Dutch energy mix. During the trial, the city gained extensive knowledge regarding the use of EVs, safety, energy consumption, impact on the environment and effects on the electricity grid.

Building on that trial, the city has made immense strides. EV owners in the city of Rotterdam are entitled to one year of free parking in downtown and enjoy subsidies of up to €1,450 if they install a home charger using green electricity. in 2014 the city introduced a scrappage program to remove old polluting vehicles to improve air quality in the city.  "By scrapping older vehicles and incentivizing buyers to replace them with zero-emission electric vehicles, Rotterdam is taking a huge step in improving air quality. Vehicles like Nissan eNV200 and Nissan LEAF are ideal for city-based fleets as well as for private motorists who want to make a difference to the quality of life in their home town," said Jordi Vila, Managing Director Nissan Netherlands. Rotterdam took the additional step – for a limited time period – and offered a €2,500 incentive for business buyers to replace the old vehicles with all-electric vehicles.

With the launch of its Rotterdam Electric program, the city government created the right conditions to provide the best possible support for the market and to accelerate its development. Part of this is done by providing sufficient electric vehicle (EV) charging stations throughout Rotterdam. The City of Rotterdam is also offering owners of electric vehicles an attractive scheme for EV charging stations. The scheme, known as “Innovative Projects and Vehicle Fleets,” actively focuses on promoting innovation and collaborating with various other municipalities, users, and the corporate world to make the most out of electric transport as an economic opportunity. With the knowledge gained from these initiatives, Rotterdam plays an active role in numerous eMobility projects, discussions, and partnerships on both a national and European level.

In 2016, along with 16 other municipalities, the Municipality of Rotterdam put together a comprehensive tender for adding more charging stations to the streets: an extension of up to 4,000 new charging points for electric cars in its entire concession area, of which 1800 in the City of Rotterdam.

The contract for the deployment, management and operation of the stations was awarded to ENGIE Services. This ambitious commitment helped Rotterdam maintain its position as one of the leading cities in electric mobility adoption.

One of the successful Dutch EV adoption strategies -- as defined by Rotterdam, The Hague Metropolitan Area (MRDH), and Gouda -- was to expand the available charging infrastructure to encourage the use of electric transport.

In the past five years, approximately 1,950 public charging points have been installed. This generated a total of 13.332.447 kWh charged in the first half of 2016, which is equal to approximately 7 million driven kilometers.

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