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Fort Benning to receive more hybrid-electric vehicles

The Army is taking steps to reduce its “carbon bootprint” by supplying installations across the country with hybrid-electric vehicles.

Last spring, Fort Benning acquired eight of the vehicles to replace some of the older, non-tactical sedans in its inventory. Ronald K. Johnson, transportation officer for Fort Benning’s Transportation Division, said he hopes to incorporate 12 more into the fleet in 2010.

The move toward energy efficient vehicles is part of an Army-wide effort to reduce fossil fuel consumption and emissions as well as minimize the cost impact that energy has upon the operations budget, according U.S. Army Web site.

By incorporating hybrid sedans into the fleet of administrative vehicles on Fort Benning, the installation is also complying with orders dispatched by Secretary of the Army John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey following the passing of Executive Order 13423 and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The act requires federal agencies such as the Army to reduce petroleum consumption at least 20 percent and increase by 10 percent alternative fuel consumption by the year 2015.

The policy, also known as the CLEAN Energy Act, states that “federal agencies are prohibited from acquiring any light-duty motor vehicle or medium-duty passenger vehicle that is not ‘a low greenhouse gas emitting vehicle.’”

“The secretary of the Army and the chief of staff of the Army directed this,” Johnson said.

“But above all that, there is an emphasis nationwide and within the government to try to reduce fuel consumption and to reduce emissions caused by gasoline engines.”

Leased to the installation by the General Services Administration — the federal agency that purchases the hybrid-electric vehicles — Benning’s newest Ford Fusion hybrids with a 4-cylinder gasoline engine operating in parallel with an electric motor propulsion system are low greenhouse gas emitting vehicles that can fetch 41 miles per gallon on the highway and 36 mpg in the city, Johnson said.

To date, the Army possesses the federal government’s largest fleet of hybrid-electric vehicles at 502, thanks to a partnership between the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management, the Installation Management Command and GSA. The leased vehicles have already been distributed to 33 garrisons and commands, Johnson said.

In addition, the Army is working with the industry to further develop hybrid technologies for use on installations in non-administrative capacities and on the battlefield.

“As technology improves in this area you’re going to find larger vehicles, pickups, small busses and that sort of thing, maybe even small troop carrying busses with this hybrid technology,” Johnson said.

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