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Federal Government to Purchase 10,000 Hybrids
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May 22, 2013

Federal Government to Purchase 10,000 Hybrids

By Anna Johansson

The General Services Administration (GSA (News - Alert)) recently announced that as part of the Fleet Consolidation Initiative, 10,000 hybrids will be added to the U.S. government fleet. The goal is to lower fuel consumption, especially considering the mileage many government vehicles cover.

According to the GSA, up to one million gallons can be saved per year, which offers an excellent boost to the bottom line. Of course, a lessened carbon footprint on the part of civil servants is a plus, too.

The government has the ability to lessen its harm to the environment and lower spending simply by doing what’s required: leasing new vehicles to replace outdated ones. According to GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini, it makes sense to move toward hybrid vehicles. At the moment, only 5 percent of the government’s fleet consists of hybrids, so there’s a huge opportunity to save money. With a total fleet of about 200,000, there’s plenty of room to go green in the next few years.

Who makes the decisions?

The elastic goal of “up to 10,000 hybrids” is attributable to the fact that each agency can choose whether to include hybrids in its fleet or not. Agencies aren’t required to participate, but the GSA expects many will choose to go green as an easy method of cost cutting. Each agency has a number of vehicles eligible for an upgrade, and they’ll need to choose something – so why not go green? It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

The GSA target is in keeping with President Obama’s expressed goal to see more electric cars on the road by 2015. While one million plug-in cars is a lofty goal, it’s certainly achievable if consumers embrace plug-ins as warmly as they have hybrids. Successes like Tesla’s massive 150+ percent sales spike during the second quarter of 2013 make President Obama’s dream seem more possible. However, Tesla will need to introduce more affordable models in order to appeal to a larger pool of drivers.

The two easiest approaches to cost savings

Government agencies now have two great ways to save money without spending anything more than they would have. One is the green initiative, which makes sense because the agencies will have to replace eligible vehicles anyway. The cost of the eligible hybrids, such as Ford’s models, is no more expensive than other government vehicles the agencies currently favor. The other route is cloud storage, most recently embraced by the Department of Defense.

Both of these routes don’t just save money, but are also more sustainable and kind to the environment. The good news is that the government is setting an example and choosing eco-friendly options for doing its business. This is a natural extension of more Americans doing the same thing, and thankfully it’s picking up steam on a grander scale. Whether or not the 10,000-unit target will be reached is anyone’s guess, but it’s definitely an achievable goal.

What the GSA needs to do

It’s not known what kind of outreach the GSA is doing to encourage agencies to choose hybrids. However, something as simple as an e-mail campaign that touts the benefits of hybrid vehicles, or expanding additional monetary incentives to make their use cheaper, might be enough to persuade the decision-makers in each agency. Short videos or infographics might be likely to catch someone’s eye, and laying out the cost-savings figures will definitely appeal to anyone looking to improve the bottom line.

Whether or not the GSA realizes its 10,000-count goal, at least it’s a step in the right direction, toward a more sustainable and knowledgeable government. With so many civil servants on the road, the impact on the environment could be immense. Hybrids are an affordable, easy answer to a big problem.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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