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Four Cities Tout Deal To Lease All Electric Compact Cars

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Visitors look at Mitsubishi Motors Corp.'s electric vehicle i-MiEV displayed during the EV JAPAN, part of the Automotive World 2011, at Tokyo Big Sight on January 19, 2011 in Tokyo, Japan. The three-day trade show gathers industry experts to discuss and display the latest in electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) as well as related technologies. (Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

Visitors look at Mitsubishi Motors Corp.’s electric vehicle i-MiEV displayed during the EV JAPAN, part of the Automotive World 2011, at Tokyo Big Sight on January 19, 2011 in Tokyo, Japan. The three-day trade show gathers industry experts to discuss and display the latest in electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) as well as related technologies. (Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

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SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – Mayors from San Jose, Los Gatos, Campbell and Mill Valley on Thursday announced an agreement to add some all-electric, light-duty compact cars to their municipal fleets to reduce fuel costs and air pollution.

The cities will lease the cars without upfront costs in a deal organized by the Bay Area Climate Collaborative, a public-private group in San Jose focusing on clean energy strategies, according to its program manager Claire Barton.

Under the pact, 38 of the 50 battery-operated Japanese cars are going to the big city of San Jose, five to Los Gatos, three to Campbell, and four to Mill Valley, Barton said.

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, at a news conference outside San Jose City Hall on Thursday, said that the lease agreement would bring his city closer to realizing its “Green Vision” plan for all city vehicles to run on battery power by 2022.

Reed said that the lease deal, involving Mitsubishi and companies Active International and Mike Albert Fleet Solutions, required no cash investment from the city to use the cars.

“As we were trying to implement our Green Vision, we were constrained by a lot of things and one of those was finances,” Reed said. “You’ve got to do all of those things on other people’s money.”

Also at the Thursday news conference were Los Gatos Mayor Barbara Spector and Campbell Mayor Evan Low. Mill Valley Mayor Andrew Berman was unable to attend but issued a statement supporting the lease plan for his city.

The 50 cars, meant for light-duty use by city employees, are a part of series of deployments of about 250 electric cars elsewhere in the Bay Area the collaborative hopes to make over the next year, Barton said.

The effort is being promoted as a way to make the Bay Area the electric vehicle “capital of the U.S.” and support a goal set by Gov. Jerry Brown of 1.5 million electric vehicles operating statewide by 2025, Barton said.

The electric autos are compact models known as the “i-MiEV” built by Japan-based Mitsubishi and run by lithium-ion batteries that can go for about 62 miles between charges, said David Patterson, chief engineer for Mitsubishi Motors.

The emission-free cars may be charged slowly at home or much faster at charging stations, such as two across from City Hall and others in downtown San Jose, Patterson said.

Mitsubishi currently sells its i-MiEV at a base price in the low $20,000s and in the low $30,000s for high-end models, Patterson said.

Rafael Reyes, executive director of the collaborative, said that the 50 cars together would save the four cities $110,000 in fuel expenses and cut carbon dioxide emissions by almost 400,000 pounds over three years.

The idea for the electric car lease deal came from the collaborative, a consortium that includes the non-profit Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the mayors of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland and companies such as Bank of America as members, Barton said.

The collaborative contacted Active International, a New York company that negotiates trades of corporate services and marketing to reduce costs, and Mike Albert Fleet Solutions, a fleet management firm from Cincinnati, to develop a low-cost way for the cities to use electric cars, said Amanda Savercool, a spokeswoman for Mitsubishi.

Active negotiated the cities’ low-cost leases through corporate service trades with Mitsubishi Motors of North America chief executive Yoichi Yokozawa and Mike Albert helped the cities get better terms on the leases, Savercool said.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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