August 19, 2021

County Seeks Organization to Operate Private Sector EV Purchasing Coop

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) is seeking an organization to create a cooperative purchasing or “group buy” program for members of the public to buy or lease electric vehicles (EV) at favorable prices through the power of volume purchasing. The goal of the program is to increase use of EVs by both residents and local businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build confidence in eco-friendly transportation options among the public.

Private sector EV cooperative purchasing programs have been successful in other parts of the nation.

Cooperative purchasing is a program coordinated by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG), an organization in which Montgomery County is a member. The program assists in saving money on the purchase of commodities and services through economies of scale and through the reduction of administrative costs.

MWCOG has issued a request for proposals on behalf of Montgomery County. Coordinating the effort through MWCOG will enable other jurisdictions in the region to learn from and use the organizational structure that will be developed. It will more readily enable an expansion of the effort to a multi-jurisdictional approach, reflecting one of the recommendations that came out of the County’s earlier request for information (RFI) process.

“Transportation sector emissions are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions in Montgomery County, representing 42 percent of measured emissions in the County’s emissions inventory,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “To support our goal of reaching zero emissions in the County by 2035, we need to stop driving internal combustion engine vehicles as soon as possible. The Electric Vehicle Purchasing Cooperative will help drive down the cost of the transition to electric vehicles for residents and businesses.”

The partnership also will facilitate a faster process for other jurisdictions. The solicitation includes a clause asking bidders if they are willing to sell to other jurisdictions in the region under the same terms and conditions as those stipulated in the issuing jurisdiction's solicitation--including the same price. It is a way for other jurisdictions to quickly purchase commodities and services, knowing that a competitive solicitation process has been completed.

“What we found during our initial information gathering process is that surrounding jurisdictions were interested in joining this effort,” said Chris Conklin, director of MCDOT. “This is something we are initiating, but why not lay the ground-work for its expansion into a regional effort that will save us all time and money?”

MCDOT is looking to roll out an initial phase of the program this winter, including agreements with auto dealers and manufacturers on favorable pricing and other incentives in return for certain sales levels, and promoting purchasing and savings opportunities to residents and businesses. The pilot program will initially run through spring 2022, but may be extended up to one additional year.

The Request for Proposals (RFP) allows for combining the region's requirements for a commodity or service to take advantage of the region's large purchasing power. MWCOG’s website states that the program collectively saves approximately $2-4 million annually.

More information, including a copy of the solicitation, can be found here.