Through both regulations and incentive programs, the Federal government is making a concerted effort to lower the emissions of cars on U.S. roads.

Every consumer walking into a showroom will notice the effects of these policies in better fuel-economy ratings and a wider selection of electrified models.

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But what about when the shopper isn't a private citizen, but the government itself?

Last week, the White House announced plans to cut greenhouse-gas emissions from the government's 655,000 vehicles 30 percent by 2025.

Mitsubishi i electric car at San Antonio Missions National Historic Park

Mitsubishi i electric car at San Antonio Missions National Historic Park

To achieve that goal, President Barack Obama is ordering Federal agencies to dramatically increase purchases of electric cars, plug-in hybrids, and other green cars, according to The Detroit News.

By 2020, agencies will have to include electric cars and plug-in hybrids as 20 percent of their fleets.

That number will increase to 50 percent between 2020 and 2025, and agencies operating these vehicles will also have to ensure there is appropriate infrastructure to support them.

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This will make the Federal government a much larger customer for makers of plug-in cars.

During the first 10 months of 2014, electric cars accounted for less than one third of 1 percent of vehicle registrations by Federal, state, and local government agencies, according to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers trade group.

Hybrids without a plug accounted for just 4 percent of the total.

2014 Chevrolet Volt

2014 Chevrolet Volt

The major shift called for by Obama may not happen overnight, either.

In 2015, the Federal government will reportedly purchase a mix of electric, hybrid, and alternative-fuel vehicles--including "flex-fuel" models that run on ethanol.

These vehicles can use either E85--a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline--or the 90-percent gasoline blend used by conventional vehicles.

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The emissions rules allow the government to take take credit for buying flex-fuel vehicles despite the vast bulk of them likely never burning a drop of E85, which is available at fewer than 2 percent of gas stations nationwide.

This is the latest of many attempts by the Obama Administration to decrease emissions from government fleets.

A pair of 2007 laws require the Federal government to buy only "low-emission" vehicles, and to ensure that 75 percent of light-duty vehicles in fleet use qualify as alternative-fuel.

FlexFuel badge on E85-capable 2009 Chevrolet HHR

FlexFuel badge on E85-capable 2009 Chevrolet HHR

Flex-fuel models likely account for a large percentage of the vehicles purchased to satisfy that requirement.

In 2009, Obama issued a memorandum requiring that the government purchase or lease only alternative-fuel vehicles

He also ordered alternative-fuel consumption increased by 10 percent, and gasoline consumption decreased 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.

In 2011, Obama also ordered that all Federal vehicle purchases from 2015 onward be of "advanced technology models," although vehicles used for certain law-enforcement applications were excluded.


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