Asheville’s ambitious leap into eco-friendly transportation has morphed into a financial sinkhole and a source of frustration for city officials.
In 2018, the city heralded the purchase of five state-of-the-art electric buses, each with a price tag of over $616,796, abc13 News reported.
Fast forward to today, and this green dream has morphed into a financial nightmare, with most of the fleet idled due to a series of almost unbelievable misfortunes.
Interim Transportation Director Jessica Morriss reported that three of the five buses are currently inoperative, with one bus sidelined by a malfunctioning double door since July.
“We haven’t been able to get new doors,” Asheville’s interim transportation director Jessica Morriss told abc13 News. “There’s no third party that makes a door. We’d have to get custom-made doors.”
But the expenses don’t stop at the purchase price. Morriss reveals a staggering total cost per bus nearing $1 million, including infrastructure for chargers and annual costs like leasing batteries and electric charges. And then there’s maintenance – another $251,000 spent on items like replacing traction drive controls for all buses. Maintenance director John McDaniel adds to the tale of woe, noting the replacement of power inverters at $14,000 each.
“The last couple of years have been particularly difficult,” Morriss laments, noting the bus manufacturer, Proterra, has filed for bankruptcy, making parts for repairs as elusive as a quiet day in their department. “We don’t see an end in sight,” she adds.
The operational buses can barely make it through a day’s work. McDaniel notes that in winter, the range is about 78 miles – roughly three airport trips – before needing hours of charging. And overnight, the buses get cold, gobbling up a significant part of their charge just to warm up.
The ripple effects are felt across the city’s entire fleet, as biodiesel and hybrid buses pick up the slack, being run more frequently due to the electric buses’ frequent downtimes.
“There’s some lessons here for sure,” Morriss concedes, revealing a pause in further electric investments until they can ensure reliability.
In a related story, Hertz Global Holdings Inc., once a leading advocate for electrifying its vehicle fleet, has announced plans to offload approximately a third of its U.S. electric vehicles (EVs), citing sluggish demand and burdensome maintenance costs.
The move marks a significant retreat from the company’s ambitious electric transition initiated just a few years ago.
Hertz began the sale of 20,000 EVs last month, a disposal that is slated to proceed throughout 2024. This divestment was disclosed in a recent regulatory filing where the company also noted an expected non-cash charge of around $245 million for the fourth quarter, attributed to increased net depreciation expenses.
Also, electric vehicle owners in the Chicago area have not been able to charge their overpriced method of transportation in the bitter cold this week, leaving scenes of dead electric cars littered across public charging stations.
It turns out buying a worthless car to virtue-signal for the environment has unintended consequences.
Fox Chicago reported Monday the charging stations have turned into electric car graveyards over the past two days as temperatures in the Windy City and its suburbs have dipped to the negative double digits.