by Jack Rosebro

The US government’s General Services Administration (GSA) this summer took delivery of the first of more than 5,600 hybrid vehicles ordered earlier this year, and will make the vehicles—almost all of which are Ford Fusion hybrids—available to various federal agencies under GSA lease agreements as they are delivered.

GSA previously purchased 1,600 hybrid vehicles using revenue from the sale of older vehicles that agencies exchanged last year when they received funds for new vehicles through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) of 2009.

GSA director of Motor Vehicle Management Bill Toth noted, however, that each Fusion hybrid costs $11,214 more than the fleet’s “non-hybrid alternative” sedan, a 2010 Chrysler Avenger.

Toth recently told the Federal Times:

I don’t know that we’ll see the [hybrid purchasing] numbers we’ve seen in the last two years continue at that pace without some sort of infusion of capital. They’re very expensive vehicles… capital’s limited. It’s tough to make that jump.

The Department of Energy (DOE) plans to switch to an all-hybrid fleet within three years, and is leasing 753 hybrids from GSA this year: 334 Ford Fusions, 273 Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks, 145 Ford Escape sport utility vehicles and one Honda Insight. DOE paid for the additional cost of leasing hybrid vehicles.

GSA has also committed to purchasing 100 plug-in hybrids as they become available in fiscal 2011, and will offer them for sale or lease to interested federal agencies. GSA will evaluate all offers, whether from domestic or foreign automakers, in accordance with Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR).

Although GSA is offering three electric vehicles on its schedule this year—light- and medium-duty cargo vans and trucks with 50-100 mile operating ranges—the agency has received only one order so far, for an all-electric van produced by Enova Systems.

The Army will lease the van, which costs more than $100,000 for use at Joint Base Lewis- McChord. A similarly sized gasoline-powered cargo van typically found on GSA’s schedule costs around $20,000, according to Toth.