Biden Wants American-Built, All-EV Federal Fleet

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
biden wants american built all ev federal fleet

We asked you a bit ago what the Biden administration might mean for the automotive industry.

We now have a partial answer.

President Biden plans to use an executive order to replace the federal fleet of about 645,000 vehicles with fully electric vehicles. This will be done over time.

Oh, and he wants them to be built in America.

“The federal government also owns an enormous fleet of vehicles which we are going to replace with clean electric vehicles, made right here in America by American workers, creating a million auto-worker jobs, and clean energy, and vehicles that are net-zero emissions,” Biden said Monday. “Together this will be the largest mobilization of public investment in procurement, infrastructure, and R&D since World War II.”

There’s more. Biden wants to raise the content threshold needed to make a vehicle for the feds to 50 percent. And there will be a cross-agency review of domestic preferences when it comes to federal purchasing, according to Green Car Reports.

“This order is deeply intertwined with the President’s commitment to invest in American manufacturing, including clean energy and critical supply chains, grow good-paying, union jobs, and advance racial equity,” a White House press release said.

Biden’s team pointed out that the regulations that help define “domestic” have not changed since the 1950s, which has led to “loopholes” allowing manufacturers to claim less-valuable parts as “domestic” while more valuable parts – think engines – are made in other countries.

Federal purchasing rules already put more weight on domestic content, at least on the more expensive components.

The White House didn’t clarify whether Canada counts as “domestic”, as it does now.

That matters, since one potential EV the government could purchase, the GM EV600 delivery van, is slated to be built in Oshawa, Ontario.

We don’t know how much this will really change the overall industry. Surely it will incentivize some EV action among makes, although most OEMs have already been working feverishly on EV development.

I also struggle to picture fully electric armored SUVs for the Secret Service, or the president’s limo – aka The Beast – going full-on EV. But it could happen. Not to mention the phrase “over time” means that the feds have plenty of time to turn the fleet over.

I wouldn’t be shocked to see the low-hanging fruit handled early – think Ford and Chevy sedans being replaced by Teslas and Chevy Bolts, say – while the more difficult to replace vehicles hang around longer.

Then again, there is a slew of electric pickups, including the F-150, slated for launch in the near future.

This could be simply a “lead by example” move. Certainly, it will help get more EVs on the road, and that’s probably a good thing for the environment. Certain automakers will benefit from some fleet sales, and maybe EV adoption will be sped up, especially if federal workers like their company cars so much they start buying more EVs for the rest of the family.

On the other hand, this feels like a relatively small step towards further EV adoption. The retail market is just different from the fleet side, after all.

It will be interesting to revisit this in a few years. For now, Biden’s taking action – but the result isn’t yet clear.

[Image: lev radin/]

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29 of 118 comments
  • 2manycars 2manycars on Jan 27, 2021

    I don't give a rat's ass what Biden wants. I for one will never buy an electric car, even if the psychopaths in charge use violence and coercion to make it more expensive to own a gasoline vehicle. (Yes, I know this article is about the federal mafia's fleet, but they're going to be pushing this nonsense on the rest of us as well.)

    • See 26 previous
    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Feb 01, 2021

      @Old_WRX According to tRump, so are term limits.

  • El scotto El scotto on Jan 28, 2021

    Glad to see this didn't devolve into a political diatribe; No Sir not at all. To gleefully plagiarize there are too many ICE vehicles to outlaw them. Ditto with guns. With the obvious out of the way, I have some questions. Did anyone care to total up vehicles in the GSA fleet? The GSA fleet, not diesel burning Humvee's, JP-8 (kerosene) burning jets, and nuclear powered aircraft carriers? If someone did total up the GSA fleet, could we get a count of sedans? Yes, just sedans. As of now there are no EV 15 passenger vans or EV half ton pick up trucks whatever you want to call them. How many of these GSA sedans are for daily or work week use only? How many of you have driven a GSA vehicle? They seemed to have been bought at Sucky McSucks dealership who sells the lot pigs to the government. No one has determined how often GSA sedans are used to go to a meeting on the other side of town. The government might come up with a new job: "Fleet Technician" or such. Make sure the EV is plugged in correctly and Billy and Lurlene from Sector 7-G didn't leave any McDonalds wrappers in the car. Will the GSA fleet ever go 100% EV? No, too many specific use vehicles. Will someone with a car and driver choose an EV? Again, maybe. For single day, short route use? Yes.

  • SCE to AUX Probably couldn't afford it - happens all the time.
  • MaintenanceCosts An ugly-a$s Challenger with poor equipment choices and an ugly Dealership Default color combination, not even a manual to redeem it, still no sale.
  • Cha65689852 To drive a car, you need human intelligence, not artificial intelligence.Unfortunately, these days even human brains are turning into mush thanks to addiction to smartphones and social media.
  • Mike1041 A nasty uncomfortable little car. Test drove in 2019 in a search for a single car that would appease two drivers. The compromise was not much better but at least it had decent rear vision and cargo capacity. The 2019 Honda HRV simply was too unforgiving and we ditched after 4 years. Enter the 23 HRV and we have a comfy size.
  • SCE to AUX I wonder who really cares about this. "Slave labor" is a useful term for the agendas of both right and left."UAW Wants Auto Industry to Stop Using Slave Labor"... but what will the UAW actually do if nothing changes?With unrelenting downward pressure on costs in every industry - coupled with labor shortages - expect to see more of this.Perhaps it's my fault when I choose the $259 cell phone over the $299 model, or the cheaper parts at RockAuto, or the lower-priced jacket at the store.Do I care about an ethical supply chain? Not really, I just want the product to work - and that's how most consumers are. We'd rather not know.Perhaps the 1990s notion of conflict-free, blood-free, ethically-sourced diamonds will find its way into the auto industry. That would be a good thing.