Why the Army's New Non-Tactical Vehicles Will Be Electric

Why the Army's New Non-Tactical Vehicles Will Be Electric

The Army expects to invest in almost five hundred charging stations in 2022 as part of its move to adopt new electric vehicles.

The Army is accelerating its effort to operate an all-electric non-tactical vehicle fleet by 2035 according to its newly-published Climate Strategy.

The Army’s goal is to improve performance for its vehicles while decreasing its impact on climate change. An all electric-fleet would make the force less dependent upon fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

The decision to start with non-tactical vehicles (NTVs), used mostly on bases, is designed to combat the risks of climate change by decreasing the service’s reliance on fossil fuel-powered vehicles. One of the Climate Strategy’s objectives is to “field purpose-built hybrid-drive tactical vehicles by 2035 and fully electric tactical vehicles by 2050.” 

The Army has already begun a move towards its goal of net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. Part of that has been a decrease in the use of fossil fuels.

“Through the end of 2020, the Army had removed 18,000 NTVs from its fleet while increasing its inventory of hybrid vehicles by almost 3,000 in the last 3 years alone,” the Climate Strategy says. “These changes have already decreased NTV fleet costs by over $50 million, slashed Army fossil fuel consumption by more than 13 million gallons per year, and reduced the service’s GHG emissions per mile by over 12%.”

A September 2021 mandate from Army Materiel Command (AMC) required that all new vehicle leases and purchases for AMC “must select all-electric NTVs first, hybrids when electric solutions are not commercially available, and conventional gas vehicles by exception only.”

To build on that progress, the Army will need to improve its charging infrastructure. The Army expects to invest in almost five hundred charging stations in 2022.

Electric cars and hybrid-electric propulsion has been on the Army’s radar for many years now. A diesel-electric vehicle was submitted for the initial Joint Light Tactical Vehicle competition more than a decade ago. There are tactical advantages to electric and hybrid electric propulsion as well. An electric drive can generate large amounts of onboard power and electricity, to operate modern sensors, electronics, computing, and command and control systems. 

Kris Osborn is the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master's Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Image: Reuters.