One Quarter Of Detroit's Hybrids Bought By The Federal Government

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
one quarter of detroit s hybrids bought by the federal government

Bloomberg reports that the General Services Administration has increased the percentage of hybrids in its fleet purchases from about one percent to at least ten percent since President Obama took over. And you better believe that the government isn’t buying the same hybrids that American consumers are.

The U.S. government buys hybrids almost exclusively from Ford and GM. It bought only 17 Prius models and five of Honda’s Civic hybrids in the past two years. Chrysler Group LLC stopped making hybrids in 2008 after about two months of production.

The government purchased about 64 percent of GM’s Chevy Malibu hybrid models and 29 percent of all Ford Fusion hybrids manufactured since Obama took office in 2009, the data show. GM stopped making the Malibu hybrid in 2009 after lack of consumer demand. GSA also bought about 14 percent of Ford Escape hybrids.

According to Bloomberg’s math, a quarter of the hybrids built by GM and Ford since Obama took office have been purchased by the government. And the fleet buys weren’t cheap… for taxpayers or the automakers.

According to Bloomberg’s number-crunching, the government paid a healthy sum for each car… but the automakers still didn’t make full profit on the deals. The report reveals

The models purchased by the government ranged from $23,072 to $47,079, according to the data. The government paid an average of $5,281 less for its hybrid vehicles than sticker prices at a dealership

Lose-lose? Not according to the GSA, whose spokseperson insists

This is the beginning. Our main goal is to increase the fuel efficiency of the federal fleet. The other goal is to drive the market toward cleaner technologies. It’s in the early stages of the government acquiring more hybrids and in larger quantities.

Of course buying up the few hybrids built by Detroit doesn’t hurt the political argument for the bailout’s success either. Buying hybrids has all kinds of benefits… it’s just that few of them can really be quantified in dollars or common sense.

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4 of 14 comments
  • Geozinger Geozinger on Nov 24, 2010

    Rather than the government, I would have imagined electric utilities across the country would have been big purchasers of hybrids, and particularly plug ins. Although, it may still happen, as plug ins are just becoming available for public purchase. While I might agree that the cost of a hybrid for most average consumers will never be completely amortized, maybe the governmental units who get the hybrid cars will make the economics work. I don't know what (or if) statistics exist for governmental travel by vehicle, but I would have to imagine that it would be more than the average Joe, possibly?

    • See 1 previous
    • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Nov 24, 2010
      "I may be wrong, but the Feds generally don’t keep their vehicles long enough to amortize the hybrid premium." You're right. The feds generally don't. If other government agencies at various state and local levels were to purchase them, it would likely be different. I work for a school district and we routinely keep cars for many, many years. There are at least 1 Ford Contour and 1 Mercury Mystique running around (last sold in US, 2000 model year), a 1st generation Intrepid (last model year 1997), and even a 1991 (at the newest) LeSabare that apparently was part of a large fleet order at one point because 5 similar models are sitting behind the motor pool being cannibalized for parts for the one still on the road. Now my district (in the midst of a budget crisis) isn't going to be buying any cars any time soon, but when we do it's usually fleet Impalas, 4cyl FWD Escapes, 4cyl Equinoxs, and a few Dodge Journeys. The last large fleet order was during 2005-2007 to pick up Tauruses with 0 options. The newest thing I can find is the Journeys otherwise nothing is newer than 2007. If we could afford hybrids we'd drive the doors off of them. The district is so large and rural that the furthest away school is 3 hrs drive one way and the out of town ones are at least a 1/2 hr away (one way.)
  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Nov 24, 2010

    This is completely off topic, but the picture reminds me of a lolcat where the cat is staring straight into the camera looking for food.

  • El Kevarino If you have an EV platform that supports dual motor AWD, then why choose FWD for the 2WD version?
  • Analoggrotto Try as they may and as they might but the future of Electric, the future of human reality is TESLA. Only the highest level of affluence, priviledge and wealth can earn one a place in the stars. In fact when you look at the night's sky do you notice that the stars are brighter? This is because of Supreme Wizard Elon Musk, who has brightened them with this awesome grace.
  • Dukeisduke Sixty-five miles of range added in ten minutes? Doesn't sound very impressive.Also, how are they going to build these in volume if GM is building Ultium packs by hand (which they have been, slowly)? Or are the packs coming from Korea?
  • Dave M. On one hand Honda tends to make a strong, competitive product that should give you years of excellent service. On the other hand it's built on the bones of a GM product, who has a tendency to underbake their products until right before cancellation. NUMMI worked out well for GM; I wonder if this will work out well for Honda....
  • RICHARD @mebgardner I have no issues with the way the car is configured. No offensive nannies.