Is Battery Power Ready for Combat?

December 19, 2013

Within the next decade, a large portion of the U.S. Army’s huge fleet of vehicles could run on battery power. In fact, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) plans to acquire more than 92,000 electric vehicles, including hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), for nontactical applications between now and 2020.

According to a recent report from Navigant Research, the U.S. Army is bullish on alternative-drive vehicles (ADVs). ““In remote theaters of operations, the cost of moving fuels to forward military locations can be a multiple of the cost of the fuel itself,” says Scott Shepard, a research analyst at Navigant Research

 “The military’s approach to reducing fossil fuel consumption from nontactical operations includes acquiring increasing numbers of vehicles powered by ethanol blend and biodiesel blend fuels; but the majority of the investment will go toward HEVs and PEVs,” notes Shepard. “Additionally, the military is fast-tracking infrastructure development for refueling and recharging ADVs.

 “The DOD has become one of the largest supporters of ADVs, and plans to acquire only ADVs for its light-duty nontactical vehicle fleet from the end of 2015 onward,” claims Scott Shepard.  “By 2020, the Pentagon will have acquired more than 155,000 ADVs, with expected savings of more than $92 million in annual fuel costs. DOD spending on ADVs will surpass $900 million by 2020, more than doubling from $436 million in 2013.”

Although 55 percent of the DOD’s vehicle fleet can already run on alternative fuels, the General Services Administration reports that gasoline still accounts for almost 70 percent of the nontactical fleet’s fuel consumption.

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