County Contract Paves the Way for Expanded Hybrid Use
King County, WA, is taking a big step forward in reducing greenhouse gases by initiating two landmark hybrid vehicle contracts. The contacts open purchasing power to area jurisdictions, adding several new communities to the growing list of U.S. localities buying energy-efficient, low-polluting vehicles for their fleets.
Governors of Washington, Oregon, and California, in late 2003, committed to a regional greenhouse gas reduction initiative on the grounds that global warming would have serious adverse consequences on the economy, health, and environment of the West Coast states. Purchasing hybrids and other fuel-efficient vehicles was identified by the West Coast Governors’ Global Warming Initiative as one means through which to meet greenhouse gas reduction goals and promote economic prosperity.
“State and local governments, such as King County, are acting as the country’s environmental stewards on climate change while the federal government is failing to show leadership on this issue,” states Diane Wood, Center for a New American Dream, a nonprofit organization assisting King County on this project.
Hybrid electric/gasoline vehicles available today are nearly two times more fuel-efficient than conventional cars that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one-third to one-half. By replacing 100 conventional fleet vehicles with hybrid sedans through its new contract, King County will be able to reduce CO2 emissions by an additional 514,000 lbs. each year.
“Since our introduction of light-duty hybrids four years ago, we’ve found that hybrids have many benefits including less fuel usage, maintenance savings, and a reduction in air pollutants,” says Windell Mitchell, Director, Fleet Administration, King County, WA. “We look forward to integrating additional hybrids into our fleet and helping to pave the way for neighboring jurisdictions to do the same.”
To date, Toyota has allocated 100 hybrid sedans to the King County contract, for a mid-summer delivery. Ford has allocated 15 hybrid Escapes to King County, but the county hopes the allocation will be increased. King County joins a growing number of state, city, and county agencies working to encourage auto manufacturers to step up the supply of hybrid fleet vehicles.
“Ford Motor Company is excited to be a part of King County’s vision for clean transportation,” says J. Bryan Taylor, Ford Motor Sales, Government Account Manager, Pacific States Region. “Together with our local supplier, Sound Ford, we believe our new Ford Escape Hybrid will set a new standard for government fleet users in the Northwest.”
Public and private fleets comprise one in five overall new car purchases. Through bulk purchases, steady demand, and individual exposure to new technologies, purchasing hybrid vehicles for government fleets can improve local air conditions while also building the national market for such cars.