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Government Fleets Soon To Include More Fully-Electric Cars

Tom Banse
Northwest News Network
Commuter Steve Marsh (left) of Kent, Wash. was honored Monday as the first in the nation to log 100,000 miles on an all-electric Nissan Leaf.

Just like consumers who postponed buying new cars during the recent recession, government agencies also put off vehicle replacements. But now procurement officers are getting busy again.

In this buying cycle, every Western state is under a directive to buy alternative fuel vehicles and to reduce fossil fuel use. The legislation or executive order always comes with a caveat: do so, except when it's not economically or logistically possible.

A western Washington driver is showing what is possible when you push an electric car to its limit. Long distance commuter Steve Marsh just became the first owner of an all-electric Nissan Leaf to log 100,000 miles. He says he only needed to call for a tow twice in two and a half years.

"I've had to take a lot of ribbing from my coworkers," says Marsh. "They tell me they have an extra flashlight battery if I need it. And then they wonder if I bring Lizzie, our Irish wolfhound, to help pull me the last quarter mile into the office. But I think they're just jealous because now my car is paying off and they can see it."

Some governments are asking to lease rather than buy because electric car technology is evolving so fast. Still one barrier in many cases: no money in the budget for an office charging station.

Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.