Alameda County To Purchase New Electric Cars

The Nissan Leaf is 100 percent electric and releases
zero emissions.

After a failed bidding process with local businesses, Alameda County will purchase five new electric cars.

An estimated five cars are to be purchased by the Public Works Agency, contracts specialist Gina Temporal said. Initially the county intended to purchase four vehicles for its Motor Vehicle Department and four for the Public Works Agency, but the Motor Vehicle Department decided to wait until the next model year to put out a competitive bid.

According to the bid request released by the county, the car purchased will be the 2012 Nissan Leaf SV. The county plans to purchase the new cars using its own funding.

Temporal explained that the county received only one bid, which was disqualified. Selma Nissan in southern California submitted the incomplete bid. Chief Communications Officer Guy Ashley stated, “Selma Nissan was disqualified for submitting the wrong bid form and not submitting all the required submittals.”

Ashley explained that the funding for the vehicles will come from the Public Works Agency’s vehicle replacement fund.

“The vehicle replacement funding comes from depreciation cost from the County’s current vehicle fleet,” Ashley said.

Typically, when the Motor Vehicle Department purchases electric vehicles it uses a combination of grants from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s Transportation for Clean Air program, rebate funds from California Environmental Protection Agency’s California Vehicle Rebate Project, and vehicle replacement funding, Ashley said.

Despite the setbacks, the county will move forward and purchase the vehicles using county funding, Temporal said.

“We have to competitively bid things out, and the state has already done that, so they released their contract for everybody to piggyback off of, instead of having to go through the whole process,” Temporal said.

The state contract contains a list of car dealerships that were selected by the state through a competitive bidding process. The only business on the contract licensed to sell the Nissan Leaf is Wondries Fleet Group, based in Alhambra, Calif. The contract, which was last updated in late March, states that the buyer is entitled to a $500 discount per vehicle. It will expire next year in January 2014.

The Nissan Leaf features heated seating and a heated steering wheel, which come standard with the basic model. The vehicle is entirely electric and releases zero emissions, Nissan reports.

The car must achieve 106 MPGe on the highway and 92 MPGe in the city, the report states. The price of the SV model is listed at $24,320 per vehicle, according to Nissan’s website. Temporal stated that the pricing and the quantity of the vehicles they will purchase has not yet been finalized.

The contracting process is part of the Small, Local and Emerging Businesses program, which gives preferences to businesses that have employed less than 500 employees over the past three years.

“An emerging business, as defined by the County, is one that has less than one-half of the preceding amount and has been in business less than five years,” the bid report states.

Larger firms are permitted to bid, but only if they subcontract with a small business recognized as a SLEB for at least 20 percent of the bid.

Doug Bond of the Motor Vehicle Department said the county has a little more than ten hybrid and neighborhood electric vehicles. They also possess four fully electric vehicles, and are receiving a shipment of six plug-in vehicles, that are used primarily for local neighborhood commuting.

Many of the initially interested parties decided not to submit a bid for varying reasons. Premier Nissan of Fremont’s Ecommerce Director Sharawe Wyatt said that he never received the final paperwork detailing the contract and the deadlines. Nicholas Petropolous of Hayward Nissan said that the dealership initially intended to submit a bid, however a change in management prevented them from filling out the bid proposal.

Annette Coito of Dublin Nissan was initially interested in the contract, but ultimately decided not to file a bid because of the process was “too complicated” and the work required wasn’t worth the effort. She described the process as being abnormally different from other contracts she has filed with the county.

“They wanted too much information that’s not readily accessible. They wanted a table of contents and a binder and everything. That’s not how you do a bid,” Coito said.