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Government to make massive auto buy

by David Zatz on

According to the Detroit News, the GSA will buy 17,600 fuel-efficient vehicles from all three major American automakers by June 1, at a cost of $270 million. This includes 2,500 hybrid sedans, to be ordered by April 15; while Detroit automakers have invested in hybrid-electric technologies, sales fell after gasoline prices dropped.  The White House estimated the annual fuel savings at 1.3 million gallons per year. 

In addition, $15 million will be spent on pilot programs for CNG and hybrid buses and full-electric vehicles, to be ordered by September 30.

The original plan was to purchase $600 million in new vehicles; Congress cut the budget in half. Obama was quoted by Detroit News as saying, “This is what [critics] call pork…[but] It will not only save the government significant money over time, it will not only create manufacturing jobs for folks who are making these cars, it will set a standard for private industry to match.”

The vehicles being purchased must be at least 10% more efficient, on average, than the current fleet vehicles. 

Chrysler currently does not make any hybrid-electric vehicles, though a hybrid Ram is due for the 2010 model year. The Patriot, Compass, and Caliber are relatively high-mileage vehicles; the Caravan/Town & Country has the highest mileage of any minivan; and the Sebring and Avenger four-cylinders may be more fuel-efficient than models they would replace. The Dodge Charger could be a practical fuel-efficient alternative to Crown Victorias in use by Federal law enforcement agencies, as well. While these are not typically thought of as fuel-saving vehicles, hybrids may not be practical for some duties, such as ATF or INS enforcement. Diesel-powered Ram trucks could also replace aging pickups.

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