When you talk to the folks over at General Services who handle the County’s vehicles you will find that common sense and calculated cost/benefit is applied to everything in their world of fleet management. And, that is particularly true for this year’s buying cycle. After four years of fleet reductions, the County is beginning to replace gasoline only cars with Toyota Prius models. The county has vehicle replacement standards so that cars are replaced when they are no longer economical to own due to wear and costly maintenance.
Since 2005, the county’s policy has been that when light-duty cars need to be replaced, a hybrid car is to take its place. And that’s not because fleet management thinks it’s simply nice to be green - instead you’ll find that the costs and the benefits have been carefully evaluated.
Those cost benefits often come through fuel cost savings over the life of the vehicle. So, when they looked at the cost of the vehicle and the cost of gas, they found that while hybrid cars cost more than a standard gasoline car, the fuel savings over the life of the car offsets its higher purchase price. The County competitively bid the Toyota Prius rated at 50 miles per gallon combined city/highway, which is replacing the older gasoline cars that are rated between 20/25 miles per gallon combined. With gasoline selling at roughly $4 per gallon, that’s nearly $10,000 of fuel saving over 120,000 miles, and it puts the cost of each Prius at about $12,000.
“Couple that savings with the benefits to the environment, and it just makes common sense to go with hybrid cars,” said General Services Chief of Fleet Management James Collins. “The CO2 emissions for the Toyota Prius is 222 grams per mile and one of our 1999 gas-only models we’re replacing produces 423 CO2 grams per mile. Multiply that by 115 new hybrid cars and CO2 savings becomes a significant and positive impact on the environment.”
These efforts have been noticed, too, as it was just announced that Sacramento County is a winner of the 2013 50 Best Government Green Fleet Award. The comprehensive award application looks at federal, state and local government fleets in North America for their fleet composition, fuel and emissions, policy and planning, and knowing about new technologies – among other criteria. This was the first time the County has applied and looks forward to the yearly evaluation of its green fleet measures.
Today, the County’s light fleet is almost 2,300 light cars and trucks, with about 350 hybrid cars. Hybrids were chosen over plug-in vehicles because plug-in vehicles are more costly to buy, the CO2 emissions are only slightly lower, and in 2012, according to Department of Energy data, 68 percent of U.S. electricity is still produced through fossil fuel consumption. Additionally in the fleet are approximately 30 propane vehicles and 100 liquid natural gas refuse trucks in the county’s heavy fleet. That might not seem like much, but 100 refuse trucks consume one million gallons of cleaner burning liquid natural gas each year, which eliminates county diesel fuel consumption by over 500,000 gallons per year.
Sacramento County General Services Fleet Division is continually evaluating new or improved technologies for implementation, when it makes the most sense, financially, and environmentally.