Priuses save $45,000, Eagle County says | AspenTimes.com

Priuses save $45,000, Eagle County says

Melanie Wong
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” Eagle County has saved about $45,000 this year on fuel, mostly due to its new fleet of hybrid Toyota Priuses, Communications Director Justin Finestone said.

The hybrids get about 60 miles per gallon. The county’s fleet is made up of 20 Priuses, costing $21,500 each. A recent state grant of $60,000 helped defer some of the costs.

Critics who think the county is too loose with its dollars sometimes point to the new fleet as one example of extravagant spending.

However, the hybrid cars have been a good buy for the county, said vehicle managers.

“These savings are terrific, and we plan to save even more ” we’ve only had these fuel efficient vehicles for six months,” said Fleet Analyst Theresa Reno.

Last year the county spent more than $350,000 on 152,518 gallons of fuel. This year, even though gas prices have been higher, the county has spent about $45,000 less on 121,315 gallons of fuel.

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The county’s other vehicles, which include many SUVs and trucks, are much more expensive to buy and fuel, said Fleet Manager Gusty Kanakis.

Chevrolet Tahoes used by the Sheriffs Department and Dodge Durangos owned by the county are gas-guzzling and can cost more than double what it costs to fuel a hybrid, he said.

“Some of them only get 12-14 miles per gallon. We try not to send those vehicles out, but some departments need trucks,” Kanakis said.

The county also has some Jeep Liberties, which are small, hybrid SUVs that get up to 29 miles per gallon.

Besides gas savings, the Priuses cost less to buy ” the trucks and larger SUVs can cost the county almost $30,000, Kanakis said.

Replacing and repairing some parts of the hybrids, especially the batteries, can be more expensive. However, the cars are under warranty for eight years, so it should not be a problem, Kanakis said.

In the future, new additions to the county fleet will probably include more hybrids.

“Down the road we’ll be looking at what’s most efficient,” Kanakis said. “That’s the county’s goal, to buy the most efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles.”