WRAL Investigates

NC shifting to smaller, more fuel-efficient state vehicles

Posted March 18

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— After years of inefficiencies, the agency that distributes state vehicles is finally saving money.

The State Motor Fleet has been making incremental changes in recent months, such as turning the daily rental service for state agencies over to private car rental companies. On Friday, officials projected savings of more than $2.3 million from buying smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

"By taking a closer look at the way we operate, we are finding ways to make state government more efficient and reduce waste," Gov. Pat McCrory said in a statement. "These aren’t just one-time savings, but these are efficiencies that will be ongoing through the life of these vehicles."

WRAL Investigates began looking at State Motor Fleet operations in 2009, finding many state cars sat parked for months, meaning agencies were spending millions of dollars on cars that went nowhere. Motor Fleet administrators have drastically reduced the number of state vehicles over the years and have increased monitoring usage of the 7,300 vehicles that remain in the fleet.

"We stay on top of them and we track them," said Zach McLawhorn, business officer for the State Motor Fleet. "It's a customer service approach."

Replacing aging vehicles with more efficient ones serves the state better while saving money, officials said. The state will save an estimated $1.9 million on the vehicle purchases themselves and another $464,000 in savings on gas over the next seven years, they said, noting the new vehicles average 1.53 miles per gallon more than the vehicles they are replacing.

"We have a strong working relationship with a lot of these agencies. We're there to get them the right vehicle that gets the job done, with an eye to making sure the taxpayer is looked after," McLawhorn said. "They came back and said, 'You know what, we don't need a full-size SUV. We can get by with a mid-size or a compact SUV.'"

The McCrory administration also is looking to sell a 43-acre parcel of real estate off Blue Ridge Road in west Raleigh and move Motor Fleet operations somewhere else.


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