Michigan can lead with a “Purchase First, Drive First” Rule

October 21, 2022

The MI Healthy Climate plan put forth a roadmap for achieving economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2050. Electrifying state fleet vehicles is a major avenue to achieving that goal. The Climate Plan states that the State of Michigan plans to “transition its fleet to 100 percent zero-emission vehicles by 2035 for light-duty vehicles and 2045 for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.” One way to achieve this goal is by setting a  Purchase First, Drive First rule.  The “Purchase First” part of the rule would require state agencies to prioritize zero-emission vehicles for new vehicle purchases and or leases. The “Drive First” part of the rule would require that the lowest emission vehicles in the fleet be used whenever feasible, so that those vehicles are maximized for their cost and emissions savings. 

Zero-emission vehicles support fuel economy and reduce emissions. 

Clean fuels like electricity are significantly less expensive per mile than gasoline. Electricity is domestically produced and can offer more price stability, especially as increasing foreign tensions create rising and uncertain gas prices. Operating electric vehicles instead of gasoline or diesel saves taxpayers money over time as the vehicles are significantly cheaper to operate with lower fuel costs and less maintenance. 

State fleet vehicles present an opportunity to signal leadership and ease adoption barriers for clean transportation across the state. Michigan has long been the home of the auto industry. However, this industry is changing, and we need to ensure that Michigan will continue to lead as the transition to cleaner transportation is underway. Transitioning state fleet vehicles to electric and alternative fuels allows the State to “walk the talk” and demonstrate the feasibility of operating clean vehicles. 

Across the Nation

Michigan is not the only state involved in electric vehicle policies. Other states have already implemented executive orders to require a percentage of new state vehicles to be electric where feasible. For example, an Oregon executive order from 2020 required 25% of all Oregon state agencies’ new purchases or leases to be zero-emission vehicles where feasible (Executive Order 20-04, 2020). According to the Oregon state ZEV Plan, the agencies must prioritize zero-emission vehicles for use before dirtier vehicles, too. Where not feasible, state agencies must procure alternative fuel vehicles if logistically possible. 

Pennsylvania also has a similar rule, requiring plug-in electric vehicles to account for 25% of new light-duty vehicles by 2025 (Executive Order 2019-01). North Carolina has a ZEV plan that outlines a rule that “shall prioritize the purchase, lease, and use of ZEVs where feasible.” 

Putting Purchase First, Drive First into action in Michigan 

Michigan can be a leader in electrifying state vehicles, too. We encourage Michigan’s policymakers to pursue a Purchase First, Drive First rule as it will facilitate electric vehicle adoption to benefit our communities, air quality, and economy.