GM Finally Figures Out How To Sell Cars in California
According to the Mercury News, in 2005, California officials entered discussions with GM on how to integrate flex-fuel (read "E85") vehicles into the state's fleet. This in spite of a then-three-year-old policy prohibiting the purchase of such vehicles because the fuel wasn't available. Several months later, the state and GM entered an agreement for a "small pilot project of 50 to 100 vehicles"– without allowing other automakers a chance to bid on the contract. Not long after that, the state bought a fleet of 1300 flex-fuel Impalas and Silverados totaling $17m, as only these vehicles qualified for purchase. Now for a few inconvenient truths: The 2002 policy prohibiting flex-fuel vehicles was conveniently eliminated "at the last minute." California has state laws requiring officials to seek competitive bids on large purchases; it's illegal to hold private meetings with one supplier to set the specifications. GM has contributed more than any other automaker to Governor Schwarzenegger's charitable and political causes. State contracting manager Rita Hamilton stated the E85 vehicles were added to the fleet "per the Governors (sic) request." On top of all that, the Mercury News reported in July, "the alternative fuel fleet was running exclusively on standard gasoline because high-grade ethanol has never been widely available in California." State senator Dean Florez has launched a legislative investigation of the contract, which could lead to a criminal investigation by the state's Attorney General.
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