Olympia first city in state to plug into lease program

OLYMPIA—Olympia is the first city in Washington to join a lease program that will bring more electric vehicles to the municipal fleet.

A two-year arrangement with Nissan signals a push for Olympia to accommodate more electric vehicles in the public and private sectors. The city will lease six Nissan Leafs from Bruce Titus Automotive Group under a Municipal Lease Program.

So far, three of the vehicles are on the road with three more coming in 2014.

The Leaf is an all-electric five-door hatchback that hit the U.S. market in late 2010. The car produces zero greenhouse emissions and logs the equivalent of 115 miles per gallon of gasoline.

Nissan also gave Olympia four charging stations with an estimated value of $28,000. The ChargePoint stations will be located at City Hall, the Justice Center on Plum Street and the Maintenance Center on Eastside Drive. The public will have access to the first two stations. The location for the fourth will be announced early next year.

Each vehicle will cost the city about $7,400 for the two-year lease after the city’s federal tax credit of about $7,500 per vehicle.

Western Washington Clean Cities played matchmaker between Nissan and Olympia. The city’s move is expected to encourage leasing of electric vehicles by cities across the state.

Governments usually prefer to purchase vehicles. However, Nissan is willing to tailor-fit these leases to meet a city’s needs. This leads to fewer upfront costs and quicker savings on fuel, said Stephanie Meyn, program manager for Western Washington Clean Cities.

“Olympia was the first to keep going at this and make it happen,” Meyn told The Olympian. “Other people will see them as a relatable example.”

By 2018, Washington cities must purchase all-electric or biodiesel vehicles for any replacements to their fleet. Emergency police and fire vehicles are exempt. With nearly 200 vehicles in Olympia’s fleet, 116 of those vehicles already meet the biodiesel or electric requirement.

In addition to complying with state law, the lease program also satisfies Olympia’s Green Fleets Policy, which calls for buying or leasing the most fuel-efficient vehicles available.

Danelle MacEwen, program specialist with the Public Works Department, said the city will soon launch a public communication effort about the vehicles. She said the pilot program will help determine demand for charging stations in the city while drastically reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Olympia’s Public Works Department, Parks Commission and Fire Department each have a Leaf in their fleet right now — with the Fire Department driving a red one.


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