The City of Chicago will launch an incentive program to encourage private and public fleets to convert their diesel trucks to electric operations. The Chicago program will be the first program in the nation based on the size of the battery being placed in the vehicle, according to city officials.

Eligible fleets for the program will be those that operate in the Chicago area -- the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will. The program will provide participating fleets a voucher to be used at the point of sale, covering about 60% of the incremental cost of the electric vehicle (over the cost that might be expected for a traditional diesel vehicle). The amount will be determined by the size of the trucks battery pack.

The city will issue a call for applications in Spring 2013, and expects to issue approximately 250 vouchers.

The City is encouraging companies to invest in electric vehicles in order to incrementally improve Chicagos air quality while helping to advance these emerging transportation technologies, said Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein. By offering a voucher at the point of sale, rather than as a post-sale rebate, we hope that more companies will be encouraged to participate in the program.

The program is funded by resources from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and their Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program selection committee, which awarded the City $15 million in CMAQ funds. Those funds, which come from U.S. Department of Transportation funding, will make the E-Truck incentive program possible.

During the mayoral campaign, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel argued that Chicago had too many government vehicles and that the city fleet gobbled up too much fuel.

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