Saturday, July 9, 2011

San Mateo County to continue buying hybrid cars despite grand jury findings

By Bonnie Eslinger
Daily News Staff Writer
Posted: 07/08/2011 08:57:09 PM PDT
Updated: 07/09/2011 12:19:22 AM PDT

San Mateo County will keep buying hybrid vehicles despite a civil grand jury report that contends the environmentally friendly vehicles don't save enough gas to justify their higher sales price.

In a report it released in April, the grand jury concluded that the approximately 200 gas-electric hybrid vehicles purchased since 2003 were not saving the county money.
The grand jury said county officials overestimated how much hybrid vehicles save in gas and maintenance costs and asserted that some gas-fueled cars could achieve the same economic and environmental goals, particularly since hybrids depreciate faster in value.

But in a response released Thursday, County Manager David Boesch said a January 2011 analysis by the controller's office found the vehicle cost data in the grand jury report "is not accurate."

The difference in sales price between conventional and hybrid vehicles isn't as wide as the grand jury concluded, Boesch said, and with fuel costs reaching $4 per gallon and expected to rise, the county anticipates additional savings from the hybrids' better miles-per-gallon performance.

While the county further analyzes the cost comparisons, Boesch wrote that it should continue "with current fleet purchasing practice based on information currently available to us."

Email Bonnie Eslinger at

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