The government will spend $285 million in taxpayers’ money to buy 17,600 fuel-efficient vehicles, 2,500 of which will be hybrids.
All the vehicles will be purchased through the General Services Administration, which deals with logistics and procurement. GSA will only buy vehicles from General Motors, Ford Motor Company and Chrysler.
So what does fuel-efficient mean? The vehicles purchased must be 10% more efficient on average than the vehicles being replaced.
That gives the government a lot of leeway in buying the gas-guzzlers it says Americans don’t want or need. For instance, the last-generation Chevrolet Suburban got 13-15 mpg, while the latest generation gets 16 mpg — so in government speak, a new Chevy Suburban is fuel-efficient.
Another issue is that by only buying cars made by the Big Three, the government is missing out on some great vehicles made in the U.S. by foreign automakers, like the Toyota Tundra and Camry, which are high on Cars.com’s American Made Index and are arguably more “American” than the most fuel-efficient Big Three vehicle: The Mexican-built Ford Fusion Hybrid.
The government will try to buy all these vehicles before June 1, which should give a temporary boost to U.S. sales. However, keep in mind that 17,600 sales is just over half of what the Ford F-150 does even in an off month, as in the recent sales decline. So while the purchases couldn’t hurt, they’re not exactly going to solve the domestic auto industry’s problems.
According to the administration, this act will save 1.3 million gallons of fuel annually and prevent 26 million pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
That’s good, but the government still operates 642,233 vehicles that cost American taxpayers $3.4 billion a year, according to the Associated Press.
In terms of making the government’s fleet more fuel-efficient, this act appears to be mostly a symbolic gesture.