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County Says 'No' to Buying Hybrid

March 13, 2008

Deciding what is right for the environment or what is right for taxpayers is the question local governments face when they take up the question of buying hybrid or flex-fuel vehicles, the Quad-City Times reports.

The Scott County, Iowa Board of Supervisors recently considered the purchase of a subcompact car for the health department. David Donovan, the county’s facility and support services director, provided prices for four subcompacts and three hybrid vehicles. The car was to be mostly used for in-town driving.

The hybrids—Toyota Prius, Honda Civic and Ford Escape—were priced about $10,000-$12,000 more than the subcompacts—Toyota Yaris, Ford Focus SE, Chevrolet Cobalt and Ford Focus. Also included were gas mileage ratings for the cars. The subcompacts averaged about 25 mpg in the city, compared to 39 mpg for the hybrids.

The board voted to purchase the Ford Focus because of the $12,215.97 price tag, although Supervisor Larry Minard thought a hybrid should be considered as a test case.

“My initial thought was that we should purchase one and see how it performs — vis-a-vis the rest of the car fleet — so we would have a true track record on maintenance and all the other things,” Minard said. “It may not be that a hybrid is right for everything, but I think their real advantage is in-town driving.”

Donovan also calculated maintenance and fuel costs over 80,000 miles for the vehicles and the cost gap closed to within $5,000, but that wasn’t enough to sway the board.

The city of Rock Island recently purchased a fleet of 21 Honda Civic hybrids, at the conscious decision of the council and Mayor Mark Schwiebert. The vehicles are used by several departments, including public works and police.

According to the Quad-City Times, the city was able to take advantage of state and federal programs to lower the purchase price from $23,235 to $18,765. Scott County received a listed price of $21,610 for a Civic hybrid.

 

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