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Man Holding Car KeyWhen your day-to-day activities revolve around the acquisition and maintenance of vehicles – like they do for OSD’s Office of Vehicle Management (OVM) staff – employing industry best practices and standard operating procedures are vital. Although OVM’s responsibility is for the 3,500 assets that fall under the Executive Branch, when it comes to vehicle management and fleet acquisition, there are decision-making commonalities that cut across all Massachusetts public entities that are worth sharing.

Evaluating Your Current Fleet
It goes without saying: public organizations operate with limited resources, prompting many to stretch vehicle in-service time to the max. For this reason, it’s important to evaluate fleet assets at least once a year. Even with meticulous upkeep, vehicle replacement is inevitable as time passes, maintenance requirements increase, and reliability and safety diminish. OVM offers parameters to assess when a move toward replacement makes sense:

Replacement Benchmark Criteria
Age: 10 or more years, based on model year to calendar year;
Odometer: 100,000 or more miles;
Maintenance Spend: $10,000 or more over vehicle’s lifetime; and
Percent of Total Maintenance Spend: 50% or higher during last three years.

Number of Criteria Met and Suggested Action
4 – Potentially unsafe vehicle; replace immediately;
3 – Review for replacement this year;
2 – Review for replacement this year or next;
1 – Review for replacement next 2-3 years.

Vehicle Replacement
For the vast majority of us, the new fiscal year (FY) is approaching, a logical time to assess your current fleet and plan for vehicle acquisitions over the coming year. Here are a few recommendations to keep in mind:

  • Ensure the upcoming FY budget reflects vehicle replacement goals;
  • Take into account total cost of ownership when choosing vehicles, calculating in the cost of maintenance, fuel, and trade-in value, when applicable;
  • Consider greening your fleet with hybrid electric (HEV), plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV), and battery electric (BEV) vehicles. See below for descriptions and take advantage of available incentives;
  • Organizations usually must order and take possession of vehicles in the same fiscal year, so be mindful of order-to-delivery timeframes which can widely vary – from a couple of weeks to several months with custom orders;
  • Organizations looking to acquire a particular make/model also should plan early. Once production cut-off dates have passed, ordering vehicles no longer is an option and the alternate route of purchasing “off lot” often is accompanied by a surcharge;
  • Vehicle customization through upfitting adds time, varying from a week or two for minor modifications and up to two months for more extensive customization, such as wheelchair upfitting. On the topic of upfitting, a site visit with the dealer/upfitter is highly recommended to help ensure the upfit will meet business needs;
  • Public institutions have a fiduciary responsibility to spend their budget dollars wisely, and with more than $2 billion in annual purchasing power, using Statewide Contracts is a prudent choice. The VEH98 Purchase of Vehicles contract offers selection and competitive pricing and buyers take possession of their light duty vehicles with three sets of keys and a full tank of gas;
  • Many VEH98 models are offered by multiple dealers. Remember to solicit quotes to have the best opportunity to drive down price.

Contact Alex Giannantonio with questions related to fleet evaluations, vehicle acquisitions, and best practices.

Executive Branch Agencies interested in the OSD/OVM Lease Program should contact Karen Rasnick.

Find more OVM resources on our website.

Reach the VEH98 Purchase of Vehicles Contract Manager, David Sargeant, at 617-720-3118.

Review OSD’s suite of vehicle contracts, including VEH102 to transition existing vehicles to alternative fuel technologies.

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Energy-Efficient Vehicle Choices

Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) – a vehicle that plugs into the electric grid, operating solely on battery electric power, and has zero tailpipe emissions.
Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) – a vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine, running on conventional or alternative fuel, and an electric motor that uses energy stored in a battery which may be plugged into an electric power source for charging.
Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) – a vehicle powered by both a rechargeable battery and traditional combustion engine. Unlike PHEVs, hybrid batteries may not be plugged in for charging, instead they rely on energy stored through the use of the combustion engine.

Source: Fuel Efficiency Standard for State Fleet, pp. 5-6.

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