Fleet Services vehicle auction boasts hybrid cars

by Tricia Michel

University Fleet Services will sell three hybrid vehicles for the first time at its annual vehicle auction Saturday.

Bill Roberts, a director of leasing and purchasing for Fleet Services, said the 2002 Toyota Priuses will attract several bidders.

The Prius uses a combination of gas and electricity, an advantage because it gets better gas mileage without needing its battery charged, Roberts said.

“We have had these cars for two years, and we’ve already ordered four new ones,” Roberts said.

The hybrid cars are among the newest vehicles being auctioned Saturday and are expected to sell for about $14,000, Roberts said.

University faculty, staff and departments can rent or lease vehicles from Fleet Services. Roberts said rental cars are used for short times, and leases are accompanied by a minimum one-year contract. Fleet Services auctions off rental cars more often than lease vehicles because the rental vehicles are used more often and tend to have higher mileage, he said.

Fleet Services auctions off vehicles when the odometer reads between 40,000 and 60,000 miles, Roberts said. After 60,000 miles, vehicles are not as reliable and require more maintenance, he said.

Fleet Services auctions vehicles at book value or higher. This year’s auction is expected to take in $775,000.

Roberts said not all auctioned vehicles are replaced right away. Because of budget cuts and decreased winter demand, Fleet Services will wait until spring to replace 40 vehicles, he said.

The annual Fleet Services vehicle auction has changed over the years, Roberts said. When the first auction took place in 1987, he said dealers bought more than half the vehicles. Today, dealers purchase only 10 percent to 15 percent of the vehicles.

Roberts said more students, faculty and staff buy from the auction. The auction also has many repeat buyers.

The University used to trade in its vehicles but found auctions provided the best returns, he said.

The auction is free and open to the public. It will include 93 vehicles. About 300 people are expected to attend the auction.