The contract Mayor Ballard entered into a contract with Vision Fleet has garnered attention from the media of communications and news coverage that seem most comprehensive in our local political goings-on these days: the local blogosphere.
As I understand the numbers, the City would pay $35 million for 400 French-manufactured electric vehicles. Photos I have seen of the vehicles purportedly to be provided by the terms of the lease show tiny cars. I was reminded of the original Honda automobiles introduced before the first Civic model.
I did some research. I visited the local Tesla store at The Fashion Mall. There’s nothing quite like visiting a place owned by billionaires and subsidized by taxpayers to visit a store for luxury vehicles.
The Tesla four-door Model S I test-drove was more spacious than the 2002 Camry I have driven for over 150,000, miles. The Model S was about as spacious as I recall one of my old man’s mid-1970s Buick Electra Limiteds as being.
The Model S has a lot of pick-up, as in zero-to-sixty in five seconds flat. A Corvette does zero-to-sixty in 4.8 seconds.
The range of the Model S I tested was about 240 miles. The price tag was $70,000.00. There is a tax credit for $7,500 that goes along with the purchase.
If the City bought—not leased but bought—a fleet of 400 Tesla Model S cars, the price tag would be $28 million at full retail. Two points should be made on the figure: 1) Competent purchase agents for a metropolitan entity probably could negotiate a better price for such a big purchase of vehicles, so if this were to be done, we would have to wait until Mayor Ballard leaves office; and 2) There are models with longer range, and batteries can be swapped out in 90 seconds, so there would be no concern for emergency vehicles, such as police cars.
Other nice aspects of the Tesla purchase are: 1) The City would own the vehicles, and they have a 90%-plus resale value; 2) Teslas, from what I have read, are manufactured in the United States; and 3) The vehicles are incredibly efficient.
Maybe the City even could build a wind farm to generate electricity for the fleet of Teslas.
If we need vehicles on the scale stated by Mayor Ballard, we should buy, not lease. If we buy, we should buy American-manufactured vehicles. With such incredibly-high resale values, the City would get most of its money back when it sells the fleet.
Plus, each May when the 500 runs and each July or whenever they pop the Brickyard into the schedule, our City vehicles will be able to catch up with almost any driver on I465 who tries to imitate the professional drivers at IMS. And the City would have an available pool of job applicants eager to drive a Tesla. One need only go to the Tesla store at The Fashion Mall and see people drool as they stare at the cars.