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Fort Gordon transitions to fuel-efficient vehicles

Posted: May 5, 2015 - 11:07pm
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The Ford C-Max Hybrid's dashboard display is representative of the auto technology that has cut Fort Gordon's use of fossil fuels by 7 percent.  Jon-Michael Sullivan
Jon-Michael Sullivan
The Ford C-Max Hybrid's dashboard display is representative of the auto technology that has cut Fort Gordon's use of fossil fuels by 7 percent.

They’re not the types of vehicles usually seen on a military base.

One is a low-speed electric vehicle that averages 20 mph on flat terrain and 15 mph going uphill.

The other is a 2013 hybrid Ford Fusion that’s so quiet it’s hard to tell whether it is even running.

Ronald Price, the transportation chief at Fort Gordon, said both are the future at the Army post.

“Some people on post prefer larger trucks and vehicles, but this is what we are moving towards, because it better serves our purpose of carrying out missions more fuel efficiently,” Price said.

Fort Gordon has exceeded a 2009 executive order that requires a
2-percent annual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a 30-percent decrease in petroleum-based vehicles in federal fleets by fiscal year 2020.

Records show the post has reduced fossil fuel usage by 7 percent in the past three fiscal years by trimming gas-powered vehicles in their fleet by 18 percent since 2012.

Price said the fort has also reduced its diesel fleet by 29 percent in the past four fiscal years.

“We have been very tight on our vehicles and decreasing our fossil-fuel fleet,” said Price, a veteran who spent 30 years in the Army. “I think as a tenant of the Augusta community we have done our part in cutting back on fossil fuel consumption to improve air quality.”

The federal mandate says meeting these goals will promote “environmentally-responsible products and technologies” by reducing costs, increasing air and water quality and spurring investments in local, clean energy jobs.

In the past three fiscal years, Price said, Fort Gordon has reduced its fleet from 500 to 410 vehicles. The fleet includes military police cruisers, vehicles for units to go to the firing range, buses that transport soldiers to class, and trucks for building and maintenance staff.

The fort added nine low-speed electric vehicles, 14 gas-powered hybrids and one plug-in, and increased its unleaded- and ethanol-based fleet by 26 percent to 288 automobiles.

By contrast, it decreased its diesel fleet from 70 to 50 vehicles and gasoline-operated automotive inventory from 193 to 46.

Price said the fort has 50 to 60 vehicles that need replacing. It is working with the General Services Administration, the agency that manages the federal government’s vehicle supply, to possibly add hybrid sedans and pickups, low-speed electric vehicles and a natural gas-powered bus to its fleet.

He said the post has pending requests with the GSA and is nearing its annual vehicle utilization review headed by Garrison Commander Col. Sam Anderson to determine which vehicles are used the least and whether those are needed.

“If we find vehicles out there sitting idle, they’re subject to review and being removed from the fleet,” he said.

Price said old vehicles are turned in to the GSA and sold at Rawls Auto Auction in Leesville, S.C., to recoup costs.

“We are doing all we can to go green,” said Price, who calls himself a “strong believer” in fuel efficiency. He said he drives a Prius on his daily trek to work from Monetta, S.C.

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