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Government Fleets Soon To Include More Fully-Electric Cars

Tom Banse
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 new car buying during the recent recession, so did government agencies 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. 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,” Marsh said.

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

Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.