The Field Operations Program and its predecessor, the Site Operator Program, were established by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to implement electric vehicle activities dictated by the Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development and Demonstration Act of 1976. In the ensuing years, the Program has evolved in response to new legislation, interests, and technologies. The Field Operations Program goals include evaluating electric vehicles in real-world applications and environments, advancing electric vehicle technologies, and increasing the awareness and acceptance of electric vehicles. Personnel of the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) manage the Field Operations Program. To support the field evaluation of electric vehicle technologies, during 1996 DOE selected two Qualified Vehicle Testers (QVT’s) through competitive bids. One of the QVTs is the Southern California Edison Company. The other QVT is a consortium of Electric Transportation Applications (ETA), Arizona Public Service (APS), Salt River Project (SRP) and Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO); ETA is the consortium leader.
The Program and its QVT partners use three testing methods to measure vehicle performance: Baseline Performance (EVAmerica), Accelerated Reliability, and normal fleet testing. In addition, Pomona Loop testing is performed by Southern California Edison. Not all vehicle models are subjected to all four test methods.
The Program has performed Baseline Performance testing on 20 vehicle models since testing began in 1994. In addition, as of midyear 1999, the Program has accumulated over 400,000 miles on 65 vehicles while performing Accelerated Reliability and Fleet testing. Total electric vehicle fleet experience for the Program and the QVTs exceeds 2.5 million miles. Vehicle testing is discussed in detail below. All of the testing has been cost shared 50-50 between DOE and the QVTs.
To increase the awareness and acceptance of electric vehicles by Federal fleets, the Field Operations Program has also developed an electric vehicle loaner project in conjunction with six electric utilities. Through the electric vehicle loaner activities, Federal fleets can use electric vehicles for free for up to 2 months at a time. This encourages greater understanding of electric vehicle performance and capabilities. In addition, the Field Operations Program provides incremental funding for any Federal Fleet that is leasing a light-duty commercially available electric vehicle.