Indianapolis, home of the Indy 500, is no stranger to cars and high-speed records.

Now, it’s setting a new kind of automotive record: first city in the nation to mandate the purchase of electric or plug-in hybrid cars for its non-police fleet… with plans to convert all city government vehicles by 2025.


Mayor Greg Ballard says the environment is not the only reason he supports clean transportation. He’s also motivated by national security.

BALLARD: “Forty percent of the oil in the country is used for light transportation — cars, SUVs, light trucks, and that sort of thing. If we could just bend that down some, it would actually change the strategic leverage all around the world.”

As mayor, Ballard had to be financially responsible, so he carefully analyzed the technology before jumping in.

BALLARD: “We expect to save eight to ten-thousand dollars per car per life cycle and I would suggest that any mayor would have to look at that when you tell them that.”

In addition to providing a model for other cities, Ballard hopes to inspire Indianapolis residents:

BALLARD: “We’re trying to tell people that you can do this on your own, too. That the overall cost for transportation might be cheaper with a plug-in hybrid or a pure EV depending on your driving patterns.”

It’s a message that could help drive nationwide change.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Indianapolis capitol building. Copyright protected.

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The City Fleet and Energy Security (Indianapolis Mayor Ballard)

Bud Ward was editor of Yale Climate Connections from 2007-2022. He started his environmental journalism career in 1974. He later served as assistant director of the U.S. Congress's National Commission...