The U.S. military hopes it can reduce its overall emissions and fuel consumption by buying more electric cars for use on domestic bases. While they won't be used for tactical missions, the Army and Navy are slowly adding more units of the Chevrolet Volt electric car to their fleets.
In July, the Marine Corps base in Miramar, California acquired two Chevrolet Volts that are charged from solar power. The base installed a solar-powered charging station that has space for charging four electric cars at a time. That means the Marine Corps can drive short distances in the Volts using only solar power, rather than grid electricity or gasoline; the EPA says the 2013 Chevrolet Volt can travel about 38 miles on battery power alone. The base hopes to add more plug-in cars like the Volt over the next few years.
Another eighteen Chevrolet Volts are scheduled to enter service this month at the Marine Corps Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, and the Army plans to introduce Volts at 40 domestic bases later this year, according to military publication Stars and Stripes. The Army is especially interested in deploying the Volt to places like Hawai'i, where short driving distances prove ideal for plug-in vehicles.
Oregon-based OpConnect has installed $60,000 worth of electric-car charging stations at U.S. Navy installations in Washington, D.C.; Indian Head, Maryland; and San Diego, California. Each of the OpConnect points can charge four vehicles at a time. The Air Force also is planning to install electric-car chargers at Los Angeles Air Force Base, which will soon receive 41 electric cars. The Peterson Air Force base in Colorado also is slated to receive two new plug-in vehicles.
Stars and Stripes reports that the Department of Defense already has acquired 168 "road-capable" electric cars, and plans to add another 1500 such vehicles to its fleets over the next few years. It's not clear how many of those will be Chevrolet Volts. The military defines "road-capable" models as mainstream cars like the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf. The military has been operating small, slow electric vehicles on bases globally since 2007. But those models typically have short ranges and are only useful for driving within a military installation, not on public roadways.
Chevrolet Volt spokeswoman Michelle Malcho couldn't comment on sales to the military specifically, but said that in 2011 Chevrolet sold three Volts to the U.S. government. So far this year, Chevrolet has sold 182 Volts to the U.S. government.
Sources: Stars and Stripes, OpConnect, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar