“Buy American” is not mandating that businesses purchase goods that are made in America; it only applies to government contracts. However, this movement can set the tone for others to follow.

Originally appeared in Fleet Owner

The Biden administration has long been on the record as being for a clean environment. In the early days of the administration, the president signed an executive order strengthening “Buy American” provisions for federal agencies. And while Buy American does not specifically talk about electric vehicles (EV), Biden is on the record about the right choice when it comes to updating the federal fleet.

“The federal government owns an enormous fleet of vehicles which we are going to replace with clean electric vehicles made right here in America by American workers,” Biden said in his statement. There are 645,000 vehicles in the federal fleet.

I have been saying for the past 10 years that if we want to get serious about alternative fuels and electric vehicles, every federal, state and municipality should invest their dollars in them. Doing that would drive up volume and that would bring the cost down and speed up the development of the technology so it could be used in more types of fleet operations and duty cycles.

Every city bus should be electric. How does that help trucking? The technology on an electric bus is no different than that on an electric truck. A bus is a route delivery vehicle with human cargo. If an electric bus can accomplish its route throughout the day, then a beverage delivery truck powered by batteries can deliver its products throughout the day as well.

Buy American is not mandating that businesses purchase goods that are made in America; it only applies to government contracts. I think this dual focus on Buy American and on clean transportation sets the tone for others to follow.

Government purchases of EVs will raise the volume of them on the streets, and as I mentioned should bring prices down, but it should also spur the development of charging infrastructure.  With EV and charging infrastructure development, we have the proverbial chicken and egg argument. No one is going to invest in charging infrastructure if there is not a significant number of EVs on the road, and no one is going to buy EVs if there is no place to charge them. And while you can plug your electric car into an outlet in your garage, you can’t do the same with a commercial electric vehicle.

If the federal government begins purchasing EVs in quantities, it could encourage states and municipalities to do so as well.

Today, in order to speed up the EV purchase, many states are offering grants for fleets to go green. Why not take that money and invest in EVs for the states’ own fleet vehicles? Ultimately that will accomplish the goal of reducing the carbon footprint from transportation.

It’s something to think about.