California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) orders 399 Tesla Model 3 sedans

Governments around the world are transitioning their fleets to electric vehicles. Often these electric fleets consist of just a handful of EVs, but that’s not the case for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), which has placed an order for 399 Tesla Model 3 sedans, Drive Tesla has learned.

In a statement to Drive Tesla, a Caltrans spokesperson confirmed the 399 Model 3 sedans are the Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD) variant, putting the value of the purchase at more than $18 million, making the previously unannounced deal the largest known EV fleet order from a US government department at either the federal or state level.

The largest deal until now was New York City’s purchase of up to 250 Model 3 announced last year, although that deal was to see the vehicles ordered over a period of five years.

Funding for the purchase came from the most recent California Spending Plan, which allotted $176 million in each of 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 for Caltrans to replace their aging gas-powered fleet with zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). That funding also includes installing the necessary charging infrastructure to support the fleet.

Caltrans told us they found the Model 3 RWD provided the best overall value for taxpayers after considering it against other ZEVs approved for fleet purchases from the Department of General Services.

Some of the factors in their review included safety ratings, driving range, resale value, and power train warranty. Caltrans also cited the low fuel and maintenance costs, which will save both time and money as the vehicles spend more time on the road as they inspect and manage California’s transportation system.

“For each gas-powered vehicle we replace with a ZEV, that represents one fewer vehicle that needs to stop at the gas station and deal with volatile fuel prices, along with lower maintenance costs, which will save time and taxpayer money over the life of the vehicle,” Caltrans told us.

Caltrans has already taken delivery of 236 of their Model 3 sedans, and expects to receive the remaining 163 units by January 1, 2023. Once the full order has arrived they will have converted 43% of their 1,195 sedans and SUVs to ZEVs.

The department already has 54 Toyota RAV4 Primes, 15 Chevy Bolts, 11 Nissan Leafs and one Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup. Caltrans also has 37 zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell Toyota Mirai and one hydrogen-powered sweeper.

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