Hybrid sales haven’t been great lately, though it isn’t for a lack of help. The U.S. General Services Administration has bought at least 14,584 hybrids from Ford and GM, about a quarter of the hybrids sold between the two companies.
Since Barack Obama took office, the GSA has been buying up hybrids at a regular rate. Yet the hybrid purchases still represent just 10% of the 145,473 vehicles the GSA bought in the past two years. I had no idea our government bought so many vehicles regularly.
An overwhelming amount of those hybrids were bought from Ford and GM. Chrysler probably could have got in on this action too, had they actually made hybrids for more than two months.
Now I am sure some of you will argue that many hybrids are not cost effective compared to smaller petrol cars. Sometimes that is true, although the GSA managed to knock about $5,281 off the sticker price of each hybrid purchased. That’s what you get for buying in bulk, although to be fair the price of the hybrids ranged from $23,072 to a whooping $47,079 (probably hybrid Suburbans), so the actual savings per-car could be quite lower. Among common purchases were 64 percent of all the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrids produced (and the car has since been canceled) and 14 percent of the Ford Escape Hybrids sold.
You might be scratching your head a bit about some of the numbers. Let me put it like this; in 2009, 290,231 gas-electric hybrid cars and trucks were sold in the U.S. Over 195,000 of those were Toyota’s, with the other 95,000 split between Honda, Ford, GM, and Nissan in descending order of number of hybrids sold. While Ford and GM hybrid sales will probably take an even bigger bite out of Toyota in 2010, that data is still a few weeks away.
There is a lot of concern these days about the budget deficit, and rightly so. The government should run leaner and meaner, and hybrids and other alternative forms of transportation are a great way to get there. Hybrids might cost more now, but the price keeps going down, and the less money spent on gas, the better. It is also a sort of circular justification for all the money our government has handed out to develop these technologies.
The GSA won’t stop at hybrids though, as they have plans to buy Chevy Volts, Ford Focus Electrics, and other vehicles to keep fuel costs down. Over a couple hundred-thousand vehicles and a few years of use, the financial benefits will really start to pile up. It has to start somewhere, and with the government pouring so much money into alternative fuels, they should be buying the damn cars. Everybody wins with this one, right?
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to Hemis. You can follow his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout.