2:00 P.M., EDT
NEW YORK FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, 799 UNITED NATIONS PLAZA, 10TH FLOOR
MODERATOR: Thanks for coming, everybody. This is, I think, our first briefing of the fall, and it’s a very good time to have it because next week is actually Climate Week here in New York. We’re also celebrating the 20th year of the Clean Cities initiative, so it’s great that you’re here, Christina.
We’re joined by the executive director of Empire Clean Cities, Christina Ficicchia and Keith Kerman, who is the deputy commissioner and chief fleet management officer of the New York City Citywide Administrative Services. And they’re going to talk about the city’s efforts to build a clean and energy-efficient transportation sector.
MS. FICICCHIA: Thanks for coming today. Empire Clean Cities, as Ariel mentioned, is designated by the U.S. Department of Energy as a Clean Cities Coalition, so we’re a federal program in that they recognize us as a fellow Clean Cities Coalition. There’s about 100 or so different types of coalitions that have that same mission of reducing petroleum consumption towards energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and on-road transportation across the country. What’s really nice about that is that we not only have a resource with the federal government, particularly in the research that’s done at the federal labs and some of the resources they have from the technology side and some of the demonstration, but we also have a sounding board of a group of 100 similar type coalitions that are doing the same work that we’re doing in other parts of the country.
So rather than reinventing the wheel every time we want to do a new project, we’ll go out and seek some assistance and see if anyone else has done a similar project and has any recommendations on best practices or some lessons learned that we can translate and hopefully make our project even more efficient. Vice versa, a lot of what we do ends up being translated and replicated in other parts of the country, and of course, being in a place like New York City, there’s a lot that can happen here that sometimes isn’t – can happen here faster or sooner than it happens in other places, so we often do set the example for other parts of the country.
That being said, I think more and more we’re hearing the whole idea of urbanization – this generation or whatever the reasons that you want to kind of follow the storyline for it is that people seem to be moving back into the urban area. So some of the examples that we can set here in the largest urban area in the country we’ll start seeing in other places that are newly urbanized in other parts of the country, and also replicating that through the rest of the world hopefully as well.
So I’ll just kind of mention one of the reasons I brought Keith here. We are a group of stakeholders of public and private members committed to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and our petroleum consumption primarily in on-road transportation. However, given that we’re here in New York and there are so many buildings around us and the built environment surrounds us, we do also try to demonstrate some of the experiences that we learned through having knowledge around alternative fuels and advanced technologies within the built environment as well. That sometimes means electric vehicle charging in buildings. That also sometimes means just about – thinking about the supply chain when it comes to biodiesel and blending that into our home heating fuel. Recently there was a B2 mandate on the home heating side in the City of New York. And we work with the biodiesel farmers from the Midwest and the groups there to – sorry – continue the conversation because we have the experience from the supply chain on the vehicle side. We’re also able to have that conversation from the built environment side.
What is it, though, that we really do? I think that the thing that is probably our greatest success and most difficult to quantify is building that public-private partnership. We do what the private industry needs and sometimes the government can’t do. We help bridge the gap in helping to demonstrate certain technologies that – or promote certain private technologies and businesses within certain applications that government just sometimes can’t afford or can’t give preference to. We are able to take certain types of data from the private industry and public industry, collate them together, aggregate them and put out some information in an aggregate form because of our position being a nonprofit in between the space of public and private.
I think that the – our greatest success, and Keith is really going to show an example with his discussion and how the city’s – what the city’s approach has been to greening their fleet – is that our real vision is that it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s not about finding one silver bullet solution that’s going to solve all of our problems of environmental issues that come from the transportation sector, right? It’s really about finding the right application and the right – or the right solution to each and every application. That means that in theory, we’re looking to promote almost any technology or any alternative fuel that’s out there.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that we do promote every type of alternative fuel and technology that’s available. There are some that I think are better and – placed better for this time and age or this geography or that specific application, and more so than others. For instance, natural gas with pricing these days makes a lot of sense for a lot of our fleets that are pulling a heavy load. Electric vehicles are a fantastic solution in a place like New York City where there are short routes, and you would be able to have a route that you can stick to and therefore wouldn’t necessarily be restricted by that limited range.
That being said, natural gas is a great solution, particularly CNG for our region, because not only does it mean that we can make the investment on transitioning vehicles and infrastructure to use the natural gas, but right now, because the supply is what it is, the cost makes a lot of sense for private businesses. The last thing we want to do is convince or encourage a business to go green, per se, and go under because they – it was too much of an upfront cost for them. So the fact that it makes sense economically is really a great avenue and solution for a lot of private companies and on the public side these days.
And then in addition to that, making the investment on the vehicle in the infrastructure side isn’t necessarily restricting in the long run, where what if something better comes out? The better on the natural gas side is hopefully looking towards the renewable natural gas and seeing where we can capture and recycle waste gas to be used as a transportation fuel. And there’s very little that would need to be done to the infrastructure in the vehicles that are already running on CNG source from the supply of where we’re sourcing it currently.
MODERATOR: And CNG is compressed --
MS. FICICCHIA: I’m sorry, yes, compressed natural gas. I apologize. But I just wanted to kind of give you a background a little bit about who we are, what we do. As I mentioned, we have a group of members who are public and private partners. One of our major partners is the City of New York. They’re a great proponent of what we do and – but we also work with a lot of the large international and the multinational and national Fortune 500 companies, as well as the small guys here in New York. A lot of the seafood distributors are doing great things that are here local. But at the end of the day, it really is about the partnership and bringing in a number of different stakeholders that we can bounce ideas off of, learn from, and demonstrate with.
But I just want to kind of – if you have questions, feel free, but I want to turn it over to Keith, and he’s going to talk a little bit more about fleet sustainability in New York City and what the city has been doing on their end specifically, again, within that same kind of vision of what Empire Clean Cities does.
MR. KERMAN: Okay. Thanks. And then let me repeat something that Christina said. The City of New York is – has a just – this is the municipal government, so the fleet is 27,000 vehicles. It’s the largest municipal fleet in the United States – one of the largest fleets in the United States. Walmart and Coke and Pepsi and UPS are bigger, but 27’s a lot of cars and trucks to have around.
And what we’ve tried to do, especially in the Bloomberg administration and under the leadership of Mayor Bloomberg through the environmental vision for the city called PlaNYC, which you may have heard of, is we have worked very hard to be an investor and an adopter in every technology and sustainable fleet route that works. I mean, that’s the qualifier. And the partnership with Christina and Empire Clean Cities is critical because we don’t develop the technologies. The City of New York isn’t in the business of designing cars, of manufacturing or producing fuels. So we – the private sector does that, and we need that partnership, that communication with the private sector. That’s something that Christina has done for a long time, a decade or more, and helped us build those bridges to manufacturers, fuel providers, people on the cutting-edge of technologies. We started using biodiesel because one company decided to donate it to us for a summer and try and prove it to us. And they did. Ironically, they never won any of our business. We became an all-biodiesel fleet and – but other companies actually won the business. But that connection of the public sector where we can invest, we can help show that these technologies work, but we need the nonprofit and the private sector engagement. The private sector is designing and developing these solutions. But Christina is helping us get to know them, build the bridges, help sell, promote, train, and then, of course, we’re investing. Under Mayor Bloomberg, we’ve invested over $400 million in fleet sustainable technologies.
To give you a few facts – and again, there is no one approach, so – New York City is the largest hybrid vehicle operator in the United States, period. We have 6,000 hybrid vehicles. The federal government, if you think of all the different parts, probably has more. We doubt anybody else does. And it’s become a very, very proven technology. We were there when nobody had heard of hybrids 12 years ago. And it was Toyota who brought the hybrid to us and started explaining what the Prius was and introducing and meeting us. And at that time, there really – I don’t think we had a Toyota vehicle in the city fleet of 27,000 vehicles, not a single one.
We now have over 3,000 Priuses alone operating in the city fleet. And we have expanded that toward – of course, now, there are Ford Escape hybrids, Ford Fusion hybrids, Honda Civic hybrids. We also are a major investor in diesel hybrid equipment, so the gas hybrid technology is becoming more common. And I can tell you it’s proven technology. We get 50 to 100 percent fuel economy in our real applications using it, meaning with the air conditioner running, with heat running, on the streets of New York, it works. So we don’t worry about what the sticker says, because the stickers are never necessarily helpful. But in reality, it’s actually better than what the sticker says, so we go with that.
We are also investing in hybrid diesel technology, so moving that same kind of hybrid efficiency into the diesel trucking sector. We have 10,000 diesel trucks, and we use more diesel fuel than we do gasoline even though we have 10,000 trucks and 17,000 gas units. But trucking is – you think about the sanitation department, the fire departments, the ambulances, they’re operating all day long. So major investor in hybrid technology.
We are a major investor in EVs, plug-in electric vehicles. We have 600 operating electric vehicles right now in the city. And in his State of the City, Mayor Bloomberg announced that we would expand that fleet. We did. We just brought in another 100 hybrid-electric vehicles, some from Ford, some from Nissan, some from GM, so got lots of different opportunities, lots of different versions of the technology. We operate 150 electric charging stations. In fact, the city operates half the electric charging stations in the city, and – but we’re starting to push on those fronts. And we’re finding a lot of – that these are being very well received. Interestingly enough, the city is also the largest biodiesel user in fleet in the United States. And last week, the mayor signed five new local laws in partnership with our city council that push fleet sustainability further, and one of them is a biodiesel mandate. So we are using B20, 20 percent biodiesel – mostly which is soy domestic fuel – in all of our city vehicles – every sanitation truck, parks truck, police department, emergency services truck today is running on biodiesel. And now we’ve mandated that. So we were already doing it as a policy; we’ve now legislated it.
We are also looking for other potential technologies. We are currently in the testing process to try and really figure out an anti-idling solution for ambulances. New York City’s ambulances idle all day long for – because of – to keep the medical compartment environmentally controlled, medicines refrigerated, employees and their computer and communication equipment going. We can’t shut an ambulance off. So we are very actively looking and pushing the fold, and we think we’re going to have something very interesting soon on anti-idling technology, focus on a very, very specific area where there will be a tremendous return on investment.
Today we got our first delivery of five solar light towers, which look great. Light towers, portable emergency lighting, the type of lighting that was absolutely critical during Hurricane Sandy – if you were here last fall, you know we lost power and had all kinds of issues, and we were rolling out 500 – during that storm, we rolled out 500 diesel-powered, portable lights so that we could have mobile lighting throughout the city of New York. We – that’s a lot of fuel, that’s a lot of emissions, a lot of noise; that’s a lot of maintenance.
So we have been looking for alternatives, and we are investing – they literally trucked in this morning into our Brooklyn Navy Yard, and hopefully you’ll start seeing them on the streets of New York soon – into solar-powered light towers, completely autonomous light towers. They’re same mobile lights, but they have two sets of solar panels, and they are autonomous units, so they would power up during the day – light towers are only used, of course, at night – they would power up during the day, and then they would light at night. And we would not have to fuel them; there would be no emissions of any type. And frankly, because I run the fleet here, we wouldn’t have to really maintain them in the same way we have to maintain a lot of – running combustion engines, a lot of maintenance work there.
So – and then we’re also doing a lot more just on fuel management. The city is the largest fuel – the city of New York actually owns more fueling sites than anyone else in New York City. We operate 400 fueling sites owned by your local government, and operated by your local government. So we’re looking to do a lot more on fuel economy. The good news is it’s all working. We are reducing fuel use. Last year, even with Sandy, we reduced fuel use 4 percent, 2.1 or so million gallons less of fuel. And that’s while having to also respond to a major fuel crisis and the worst fuel crisis in the city’s history. And we’re going to – we know we’ll see that continue. But like Christina said, it’s not – there is no one approach.
We are a major, if the not the biggest biodiesel implementer. We are the largest hybrid implementer. We are going very strong into electric vehicles. We are pushing fuel economy. We are trying to pilot with solar. What we’re basically looking for and why that partnership with the private sector and nonprofit sector is so critical, we want to know every viable technology out there that we can show works, that is reasonably priced, and of course, for my own sake, that has to work for the city purpose for which you procure it. We don’t bring in – we don’t bring in a sanitation truck to be a showplace on sustainability. We bring in a sanitation truck to pick up the garbage. So as we introduce these technologies, obviously, they have to work for the purposes for which the city runs a fleet.
And – but so far, we’ve seen a lot of incredible progress. Twelve years ago, who would ever heard of a hybrid? Now it’s our standard vehicle. I’m hoping 12 years from now, electric vehicles are our standard vehicle. And if we see the same progress we’ve seen in 10 to 12 years, then I really think you’ll see a dramatic, dramatic change.
MODERATOR: Thank you. You want to start the Q&A process? Feel free.
QUESTION: Would you be willing to share your experience and knowledge with some foreign countries’ cities and how they should approach it?
MR. KERMAN: Well, sure. That’s what we’re doing right now. So we’re obviously willing – we’re here. And yeah, email, reach out. Sure. I mean, we certainly think that PlaNYC – and I’m not here to speak on this, but I think New York City has discussed and presented PlaNYC and the mayor’s environmental program across the world, across the country, and so yeah, we’re happy to talk to anybody who will listen.
MODERATOR: And can you also state your name and media organization?
QUESTION: My name is Andrzej Dobrowolski with the Polish Press Agency.
QUESTION: I am Maurita Cardone. I’m an Italian freelancer. Christina, you said that you set an example for other parts of the country in some cases. Can you give us a couple of examples?
MS. FICICCHIA: Well, I think one space is particularly in electric vehicle charging. There is a lot of interest around electric vehicles these days, and particularly with electric vehicles is the model is for consumers is to purchase a vehicle, park it in your garage, charge it in your garage. But more and more, we’re seeing that a lot of people want to be able to charge it on the go or at least feel like they can charge it on the go. And so creating charging applications in public areas or in areas where there’s commerce is a place where New York City has really struggled in the sense of trying to figure out how it works. There’s a lot of competition for streetscape in New York City, so I think that from a policy perspective we’re – Keith will attest to this, is the city is not necessarily promoting that we’re going to put electric vehicle chargers on the street, per se. However, we need to provide access for those that want to be greener on the consumer side, or traveling in from the outer boroughs, or from other parts of the state or the metro area for work or for meetings, and/or if you’re a resident of New York. If you have been in New York more than a couple of times and have had experience either driving a car or driving in another car, you know that you rarely park your own car. You have a parking attendant or garage attendant park that.
So we created – we were funded, actually, through the Department of Energy about 18 months ago. We worked really closely with the mayor’s office on coming up with New York City’s EV-readiness plan, and we looked at some of the needs that were – the gaps that were missing out of that, and one of those was access to charging. And so we created a manual for parking garage attendants, essentially, to figure out how to charge and where to charge a vehicle that comes in and is basically dropped off with their keys, and says, “I need to be full by the time I come pick up my car.” And not having any experience because they didn’t buy that car, they didn’t go to the dealer, they never got any training, they have no idea what the plug is. So there is – that’s one experience, I think, that other places in the country, because they’re starting to urbanize, they’re saying, “Oh wow, we may need to look at some of those kinds of education and outreach around electric vehicles as well.”
I think that just from a day-to-day kind of annual perspective, because of all of the things that the city specifically is doing is we get calls all the time about: What is the city – what has the city – what was the city’s experience on deploying the hybrid vehicles? We – I know that there was an example where someone from London – I think the police department in London contacted our NYPD because they’re really impressed at how much fuel reduction they were able to gain in deploying hybrid vehicles, so there’s another example.
MR. KERMAN: Yeah, the city, I mean, is – I took a call from Vancouver about two hours ago –
MS. FICICCHIA: Mm-hmm.
MR. KERMAN: -- to talk about the new laws that were passed last week. And yeah, I think a lot of cities are looking to New York City, not alone of municipalities or fleets, but among the leading, kind of, edge fleets. And the police department is a great story. The New York City Police Department operates 1,500 hybrid-electric and/or plugin vehicles, and it’s the largest law enforcement alternative fuel fleet in the world that we know of, and they regularly talk about and promote what they do with other law enforcement fleets. And interestingly enough, it’s all, as a matter of policy, the legislative mandates – and there aren’t many laws, including the new ones – do not govern the police department fleet. So the police department is not under a legislative mandate to have a single alternative fuel vehicle, but in fact, operates the largest fleet of its type, so --
QUESTION: So you’re saying that New York City is not considering putting any charging station, like, in the streets? That’s not been a --
MS. FICICCHIA: I think Keith can talk --
MR. KERMAN: Well, we can --
MS. FICICCHIA: Not in – not considering but --
MR. KERMAN: Well, sure we are. So the – we’re – Christina is absolutely right. The priority for rolling out EV chargers at this point – and I think it makes sense that it is the priority – is in both municipal and private parking garages. And in the State of the City, the Mayor announced, and the city is working on, a plan to require 20 percent of all new parking locations – municipal or private, anything over five parking spots – to be wired for electric charging use.
And as a practical matter, that is the right place to start. You do have to build – we do have to see an EV fleet. And there’s the chicken or the egg, as they call it, but you do need to see an EV fleet start to develop. We need to see more EV operators on the private side, especially. We’re doing what we can on the municipal side, but – and parking garages are just a sensible place to start that rollout. That – and Christina’s right, there is much more competition for street parking. That said, I think we are going to also be looking at how to roll out EV-charging on the street, probably starting with the municipal fleet, to pilot how they will work, how to maintain them.
So to give you another example, so you don’t have to trust me, go to Central Park, go to the East Drive at 59th Street. You will see, right in the public area, three electric chargers and three, usually, GM Volts that are operated by the Parks Department. They – I – most tourists go by and take pictures of them; they’re very visible. And they’re one of our first experiments in getting EV chargers in public areas.
We obviously have to look at: How will that infrastructure work, how will we charge it, how will we offer access, how can we maintain it? There are lots of issues to putting out public infrastructure. So – but it’s certainly not – buildings and parking garages is the immediate priority. It’s the low-hanging fruit, for lack of a better term. But we’re absolutely looking at how to roll it out publicly as well.
QUESTION: Are you looking at other countries? Since you said that New York set an example, but there are other countries that have done that already. Are you looking at other experiences, too?
MR. KERMAN: Sure. We look everywhere we can find a good model of doing things. And so if you know of a really great model that – of outdoor public charging, I’m – I was – to give you a reference point, just – I was speaking at a forum on Monday and talking to a person who represented, kind of, industry and industrial groups in Germany, where they are doing enormous EV work, and we had a long conversation about what was possible, and we’ll continue that. So yeah, we’re not saying we have the only ideas, but we have a lot of good ideas.
MS. FICICCHIA: And that’s not to say that public charging isn’t on the street in other places. So our geography covers not only the five boroughs of Manhattan and – it’s New York City, sorry – but we also cover what we call Lower Hudson Valley, which is Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam Counties north of the city, and there are some on-street public charging stations in some of the smaller towns and villages and communities there, where there’s a main street, where there’s a few commerce – a strip of commerce and some stores there. And there’s not as much competition, per se, for the streetscape there.
So there definitely are examples that are being set in other parts of the region. But when it comes to New York and just the way that things are being rolled out, there’s a lot that needs to be demonstrated before we necessarily put a charger for public access on the street.
QUESTION: All right, my name is Federico Bardier. I’m from – I’m a freelancer from Uruguay. You name a lot of the investment that the city has made in the last years. And how quickly do you start seeing a return of those investments?
MR. KERMAN: Fairly quickly. It all depends on the investment, so to give you – when we – started with hybrids, the Priuses, and the Civics, now the Ford Fusions and Ford Escapes. In many cases, they were priced higher than your standard vehicle. You were getting fuel economy return, but you were also paying an offset. And sometimes we would get financial support for the offset, but as we saw years go by, the price for the hybrids, more or less, now is fairly consistent with regular pricing, so that return on investment is very clear, and you’re getting that return – it is an economical approach.
As we now start to become much more robust in the EV sector and the – all electric vehicles, it’s kind of a similar story. We invested in Volts and in Focus EVs and Leafs, and they’re all much pricier than – in this first generation than regular – their gas equivalents. We’re getting tremendous fuel economy, and in many cases we’re off fuel altogether, but there’s still a gap. That said, we’re seeing progress already.
So the Nissan Leaf, from the time we put in our contract – we now have long-term contracts for these vehicles. From the time we put in the contract to the time we bought them, the price went down six-$7,000. It’s going down again now. This is public record, they – you don’t have to trust me on it. We had a presentation from GM Monday about an extraordinarily lower-expensive EV option, much less than anything we had yet. So I can tell you just six months, we have seen the cost potential on EV investments start to go down dramatically. So I won’t tell you that you have a pure return on investment in the first round of EVs. Frankly, you didn’t on the first round of hybrids either, but now I’m operating 3,000 of them, and we do.
But that’s one role a city can play. And you know, we have had partners: The New York Power Authority, the federal government through what’s called the Clean Cities Program and CMAQ, who have helped offset some of that cost for us. So the city’s been able to find partners, and some of those through Christina and Clean Cities help – who have helped offset some of those additional investment costs. It’s an appropriate role for the city to be an investor. We’d do it if we didn’t have the offsets, probably.
But what we’ve found is over time, these things have paid off. Same – biodiesel – right now, biodiesel costs are one to two cents of regular diesel costs. It’s de minimis. It’s minimal. And sometimes it’s less. Sometimes that one to two cents is actually less, sometimes it’s more. But as a cost implementation, it has been more or less a non-cost issue, and yet environmentally, very, very positive at the tailpipe and very positive in greenhouse gases.
So there is, obviously, like anything else, there’s a startup investment cost, but for the most part, not totally, we certainly have invested – and I won’t name them – but we’ve invested in some hybrid or electric technologies that didn’t work. We bought 10 all-electric vans from a manufacturer who is now bankrupt, so they can remain nameless. But we still have them. They – their technology sounded good. Unfortunately, two years later, they were out of business. The larger dealer who sold them to us refuses to take responsibility, and we’ve got 10 impossible-to-maintain electric vehicles with technology nobody knows anything to do with. So you have some failures; and we’re actually looking at converting them out and taking the EV pieces out, because the vehicles are fine vehicles and should last for another 10 years.
So you certainly have some things that don’t go perfectly, and that’s the nature of this. But for the most part, our biodiesel program, our hybrid program, our EV programs, our natural gas – I didn’t mention, but New York City also runs three natural gas fueling sites, including in Central Park, there is actually a natural gas fueling site in Central Park at 86th Street for city vehicles. And we’ve been using natural gas in vehicles since 1994 in the Parks Department, and I’ve spent most of my adult life working for the Parks Department.
So natural gas is also not new to the City of New York. It’s two-decade old technology and something we’ve invested in. And I would say 95 percent or more, 98 percent of all the investments we’ve made have worked tremendously, so --
MS. FICICCHIA: We have some private side investments, too, that we’re seeing on this, especially with CNG, that there’s actually a great return on investment. I have a fleet that I was actually hoping to bring this week as well – but I can certainly connect you if you’re interested – that they, with some investment from the public sector as well, so there’s some state and federal funding. That program is actually re-upping and is available again for electric trucks, natural gas trucks and other types of technologies.
But they have a little over 100 trucks that deliver beer, and about a quarter of them are transitioned and can run on compressed natural gas, and they’re starting to see about a million dollars already on savings and fuel costs annually from that investment. So again, it was a shared investment from both the – some of the grants that were available on the public side as well as them making their own investment. So --
MR. KERMAN: Unfortunately, all the savings are being reinvested in alcohol, so --
MS. FICICCHIA: Right. (Laughter.) They’re just buying more booze.
MODERATOR: This is Phoenix Beverage?
MS. FICICCHIA: Yeah, this is Phoenix, yeah.
QUESTION: I’m Takahiro Hosoda from Nikkei Business (inaudible), Tokyo. And I’m curious about passage a New Yorker – what passage a New Yorker has to such a alternative (inaudible), and (inaudible) – that what’s changed after the Hurricane Sandy? Do you think – what do you think about that?
MS. FICICCHIA: From a perception, I think that the – we do a lot of outreach and education. We try to get all of the information and the successes that our stakeholders like Keith do out into the public eye. It’s kind of difficult in a place like New York because we’re promoting vehicles and most New Yorkers don’t drive. In fact, we want you to stay on the subway. All of this talk about electric vehicles, please don’t go out and buy an electric vehicle if you don’t own a vehicle. Stay on your bike, ride your bike, ride the subway, walk to work. That’s what we prefer.
But because of that, there’s a disconnect sometimes about the transportation aspect of not only how you get from Point A to B, but how some of your goods and services get from Point A to B. So we do a lot on the consumer side to educate New Yorkers about the positive effects and some of the things that are happening. Some events that we have – we have Plug-In Day that’s coming in on – next Saturday, actually, in the pedestrian area of Madison Square Park, right at – where is that – near the Flatiron Building. And that is where we’ll showcase a handful of plug-in vehicles, both on the light duty and the truck side. And we get a lot of consumers that walk by and be like, “Oh, I had no idea.” For instance, like last year, we had it in Times Square, “I had no idea that Duane Reade had electric trucks.” So now when I’m going to pick up my toilet paper or whatever it is, I know that they’re delivering that emissions-free, zero-emissions truck rather than a diesel truck, so improving the air quality of my neighborhood.
We have a program that we’ve been rolling out that’s a little dormant but will see some more activity on over the next couple months called Mission Electric, and it’s about promoting all of those ideas to a consumer base of New Yorkers who don’t necessarily understand driving a vehicle or buying a vehicle, and therefore might not get the EV perspective. However, they interact with those goods and services that are delivered by a vehicle, and potentially and most likely, a dirty diesel vehicle. So what can they do, what can we do to educate them and encourage them to purchase and use services and purchase goods from the companies that are doing the right thing and using electric trucks to make their deliveries?
So we’re increasing the exposure. They – once they know about it, they love it, but it’s educating them and letting them hear what it is that’s happening.
MR. KERMAN: There’s more to be done.
MS. FICICCHIA: Yes.
MR. KERMAN: I don’t think the hybrid story is – I think in fleets, it’s much more well-known than it is in the consumer side. I think in the fleet world now, you can ask any fleet manager out there of any size fleet, I think they can tell you – they can give you the story on hybrids pretty clearly, and it’s a good story. I’m not sure that’s yet completely the consumer case. I could – I was pitching my brother on a particular vehicle, and I was actually pitching the hybrid version of it. So he and his wife went and looked at the vehicle and they called me back and said, “Oh, I – we really like that -- ” and in fact, it’s from your home country – “and we bought it.” And like, “Oh, you bought the hybrid.” Like, “Oh, no, no, we got the regular one.” (Laughter.) And it’s like, “Wasn’t why I was pitching that.”
But I will say during Sandy, obviously, that was the largest fuel crisis in the history of New York City, and the first one, really, since the late ’70s, which was a different type of crisis. And I think everyone woke up to the idea that fuel is a critical resource. It cannot be around. And so that can only help in arguing both for fuel economy – having more fuel-efficient vehicles – but also for diversifying our fueling infrastructure. Ultimately, certainly in the fleet side, part of our own resiliency argument for electric and natural gas is to have more – have diversity in how we operate vehicles, since we saw very clearly that we can have substantial disruption.
So, I mean, has that – is that in the public consciousness on the retail side? I’m not sure. But I think it can only help the argument this is the first time that this region went through this type of major fuel disruption and impacting everything that was happening for weeks. And obviously, resiliency, multiple sources of fuel and fuel efficiency are the only answers other than getting out of your car, which is always a good answer.
MODERATOR: Any final questions?
QUESTION: I had a question but I’m not sure if – there’s probably a scheduled one-on-one in --
MODERATOR: We can do a one-on-one afterwards.
QUESTION: -- (inaudible) have time for (inaudible).
MODERATOR: Any other questions for – during this part of the presentation?
Okay. Then I’d like to thank Christina and Keith for joining us. This was really a fascinating briefing and hopefully very useful for all of you. Thank you for coming.
MR. KERMAN: Thank you.
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