Montana: State Fleet Meeting Fuel Efficiency Goals

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Montana has surpassed goals set two years ago to make its fleet of state vehicles more fuel efficient, according to the state Department of Transportation.

The agency set a goal to reach an average of 30 miles per gallon in its fleet of vehicles by 2010 and has already surpassed that goal at 31 mph, said director Jim Lynch.

As the state updated its fleet, it has added 98 hybrids, including the Ford Escape SUV, the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic.

Lynch said the plan is to buy another 27 new hybrids this spring, including some SUVs.

“When you factor those in, we’ll go from a fleetwide average of 31.6 miles per gallon to 34.2 miles per gallon,” Lynch said.

“We still have some of the older cars in our fleet and they’re still factored in. But when those older cars reach their maturity and are replaced, our mileage will continue to increase.”

While hybrids cost more, their resale value is often higher. Two older hybrids sold at auction for $7,000 and $8,900 while an older Ford Taurus might sell for $3,000 to $5,000, Lynch said.

The increased gas mileage of hybrids saves the state money on fuel costs over their useful life of about six years, he said.

Lawmakers sought to make the fleet more fuel efficient in 2007 after fuel costs for 2005 through 2007 exceeded the motor pool’s budget by about $5 million.

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