How Vehicle Acquisition Supports Petroleum Reduction Strategies

Federal fleet managers can use vehicle acquisition (as identified in the VAM) to implement agencies’ optimal petroleum reduction strategies. Agencies should acquire:

  • Vehicles right-sized to the mission by employing the most fuel-efficient vehicle for the required task.
  • Plug-in electric vehicles, including BEVs and PHEVs, increasing the number of acquisitions as costs fall and as manufacturer offerings grow more abundant.
  • Other AFVs (including flex-fuel E85, natural gas, and propane vehicles) at locations with access to the alternative fuel in question.
  • Low GHG-emitting vehicles as defined by EPA each model year.
  • Diesel vehicles at locations with access to biodiesel blends.
  • Hybrid vehicles where alternative fuel is not available.

Agencies should ensure vehicle acquisitions comply with EISA Section 141, which prohibits (with certain exceptions) Federal agencies from acquiring LDVs and MDPVs that are not low GHG-emitting vehicles, and EPAct 1992, which requires that at least 75% of covered LDV acquisitions by Federal agencies be AFVs.

Vehicle acquisition supports the key strategies to achieve petroleum reduction targets as follows:

  • Increasing fleet fuel efficiency. Integral to reducing petroleum use is the acquisition of higher fuel economy vehicles. In most cases, a successful implementation of this strategy can be achieved through acquisition of low GHG-emitting vehicles, which are fundamentally the most fuel-efficient vehicles in their class, and through acquisition of devices that improve vehicle fuel economy, such as idling-reduction devices and telematics. Often the most cost-effective way to improve overall fleet fuel efficiency is by replacing the least-efficient vehicles.
  • Implementing alternative fuel, biodiesel blend, and renewable diesel blend strategies. Success in achieving and exceeding alternative fuel use mandates depends not only on fuel availability but also on vehicles that can use the fuels.
  • Implementing electric vehicle strategies. At the core of this petroleum reduction strategy is the acquisition of BEVs, LSEVs, and PHEVs. EVs are extremely fuel efficient and operate on electricity, an alternative fuel. EVs are both low GHG-emitting vehicles and AFVs.

To develop a vehicle acquisition strategy, fleet managers should look broadly at the costs and benefits of different vehicle types, including the driving environment for which they are best suited:

  • Biodiesel capable vehicles are more commonly available in larger vehicles sizes. They generally have slightly higher fuel economy than gasoline vehicles (in part because diesel and biodiesel are more energy-dense). Because biodiesel use requires dedicated infrastructure, it is often ideal for either centrally refueled vehicles, or ones with set routes that pass by a biodiesel station. Biodiesel is a good alternative fuel to use for any diesel vehicle that meets these criteria.
  • CNG is typically less expensive on an energy content basis than gasoline or diesel and may require less maintenance than diesel vehicles. However, the vehicle fuel tanks and the fueling infrastructure are more expensive than diesel or gasoline fueling systems. In order to capitalize on the lower operational costs and achieve a good return on investment on high initial capital costs, CNG is best suited for larger, high utilization vehicles.
  • E85 FFVs generally have a lower fuel economy than gasoline vehicles, because E85 is less energy-dense than gasoline. E85 vehicles are appropriate for nearly any drive cycle as long as they are either centrally refueled or have a set route that passes by one or more stations where E85 is available. E85 is a good acquisition strategy wherever the fuel exists or can be developed.
  • Propane fuel is often less expensive than gasoline and diesel but often more expensive than CNG. Similar to CNG, propane vehicles avoid certain maintenance issues associated with diesel after treatment systems and may have lower maintenance costs. Propane is less pressurized than CNG, and the on-vehicle fuel tanks as well as the fueling stations are less expensive as a result. Propane vehicles tend to be more expensive than gasoline or diesel vehicles but less than CNG. Therefore, there are certain use cases such as buses for personnel transport where operating propane buses may be a cost-effective petroleum reduction strategy.
  • HEVs generally have higher fuel economy than conventional gasoline vehicles and achieve the greatest efficiency gains in a stop and go environment through regenerative braking, such as cities. They are a good choice for LDVs and especially fleets with no current or anticipated alternative fueling stations as well as for smaller fleets that cannot aggregate sufficient demand for alternative fuel to be cost effective.
  • PHEVs can substantially increase fuel economy in a fleet and have a much lower operating costs but come with a higher initial price tag. These vehicles are good options for fleets that lack access to traditional alternative fuels but may have access to Level 1 charging via a wall outlet. They are mostly available in light-duty options.
  • BEVs are efficient and inexpensive to operate, eliminate a lot of maintenance associated with gasoline vehicles, but fully depend upon charging infrastructure and have a higher initial cost than gasoline vehicles or HEVs. BEVs are ideal for fleets with set routes that can be accommodated by the BEV driving range.

The table below lists fuel types, fuel prices at a snapshot in time, and vehicle type availability.

Vehicle Acquisition Strategy Considerations
Fuel TypeFuel Price/GGE (January 2020)Vehicle Type Availability
Gasoline$2.59Light and medium duty
B20$2.60Medium and heavy duty
B100$3.65Medium and heavy duty
CNG$2.18Medium and heavy duty
Diesel$2.71Medium and heavy duty
E85$2.96Light and medium duty
Propane$3.82Light, medium, and heavy duty

Because electric drive vehicles (HEVs, PHEVs, and BEVs) operate more efficiently on a GGE basis than the vehicles listed in above, the following table lists operating costs per mile and the optimal driving conditions for each electric drive vehicle.

Operating Costs for Electric Drive Vehicles
Electric Drive TypeOperating CostsOptimal Driving Conditions
HEV9 cents a mileLess annual use than PHEVs or BEVs; longer driving distances
PHEV<6 cents a mileHigh annual use; longer driving distances (>200 miles a day)
BEV<3 cents a mile

High annual use; shorter driving distances

(<200 miles a day)

Framework for Identifying Optimal Vehicle Acquisition Strategies

The steps described in the table below can assist in identifying optimal vehicle acquisition strategies to support the petroleum reduction strategies selected for each fleet location.

DOE's Recommended Framework for Identifying Optimal Vehicle Acquisition Strategies
Plan and Collect
1Determine vehicle acquisition requirements

• Establish a structured VAM to determine the numbers and types of vehicles required to accomplish your fleet’s mission

• Cross-reference AFV inventory with existing fueling locations to determine opportunities to transfer vehicle locations

• Estimate vehicle acquisition requirements to replace, add, and dispose of fleet vehicles

2Incorporate impacts of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduction at each fleet location

• Refine the numbers of vehicles required to accomplish your fleet’s mission at each fleet location based on opportunities to reduce VMT

3Establish vehicle acquisition strategies

• Identify available AFVs that meet agency mission needs, qualify as low GHG-emitting vehicles, and provide the highest fuel economy

• Consider whether EVs could meet your fleet’s needs

• Ensure proper fueling infrastructure is conveniently available for any acquired AFVs

• Identify low GHG-emitting vehicles available for each type of vehicle required to accomplish your fleet’s mission at each fleet location

• Identify the most fuel-efficient vehicle to accomplish your mission, including HEVs

4Acquire vehicles through GSA

• Incorporate low GHG-emitting vehicle, fuel-efficient vehicle, AFV, diesel vehicle, and EV acquisition plans—as well as car-sharing options—for each fleet location

• For leased vehicles, work with GSA Fleet and its fleet service representatives (FSRs) to finalize vehicle acquisition plans

5Monitor performance

• Determine compliance with the EPAct 1992 AFV and EISA Section 141 low GHG-emitting vehicle acquisition requirements

6Refine vehicle acquisition plans to meet compliance requirements

• If EPAct 1992 AFV or EISA Section 141 low GHG-emitting vehicle acquisition requirements cannot be met, determine what actions are needed to achieve compliance


Implementing Vehicle Acquisition Strategies

Overall, agencies meet their employee surface transportation needs through:

  • Alternative transportation sources, including the use of public transportation and reimbursement of Federal employees for use of their privately owned vehicle (more appropriately phrased “personally provided vehicle,” because leasing is common)
  • Existing fleet vehicles, including the transfer of excess, seized, or forfeited vehicles and use of existing vehicles in motor pools
  • Acquisition of Federal fleet vehicles, including the purchase through GSA Fleet Purchasing, GSA Fleet Leasing, commercial lease, or rental through the GSA Fleet Short-Term Rental Program or Multiple Award Schedule.

The primary objective when selecting among these available options is to satisfy agency needs for transportation services at the least cost to the Federal government while still supporting petroleum reduction strategies and meeting the mission requirements of the agency.

Having developed a fleet profile and VAM, selected other petroleum reduction strategies, and identified acquisition requirements, fleet managers can now begin the acquisition process.

Acquisition of Federal Fleet Vehicles

GSA is a mandatory source for Federal vehicle acquisition. This section provides an overview of how to acquire vehicles from GSA, including AFVs, EVs, low GHG-emitting vehicles, and other vehicles that assist agencies in implementing petroleum reduction strategies.

GSA leverages the government’s buying power to purchase vehicles and automotive products at significant savings for Federal agencies. GSA purchases vehicles directly through the OEMs at prices below invoice. In addition, GSA also has contracts with the OEMs’ representative dealers with a variety of makes and models at competitive pricing.

To compare vehicles that comply with the EPAct 1992 AFV acquisition requirements and the EISA 141 low GHG-emitting vehicle acquisition requirements, GSA Fleet has developed an Alternative Fuel Vehicle Acquisition Guide. The Guide lists the vehicles by the relevant requirement along with information about vehicle type, motor, incremental costs, fuel economy, and mileage rates.

Federal agencies acquire vehicles through one of the methods below:

  • Purchase through GSA Fleet
  • Lease through GSA Fleet
  • Lease commercially or through GSA Schedule
  • Rent through the GSA Fleet Short-Term Rental Program or GSA Schedule.

Purchase through GSA Fleet

GSA is a mandatory source under Federal Property Management Regulation (FPMR) (41 CFR § 101-26.501-1) for purchases of all new non-tactical vehicles for DoD, Federal executive agencies, and other eligible users.  GSA’s Office of Fleet Management makes vehicles and related products and services available for purchase by customer agencies.


Agencies primarily order vehicles for purchase using GSA’s online tool, AutoChoice. AutoChoice allows an agency to compare contractors, configure vehicles, choose equipment and color options, and view side-by-side comparisons of vehicle models from manufacturers. Agencies can also use AutoChoice to check on order status, get mpg fuel ratings, select dealerships, run reports, and more. Product offerings include buses, wheelchair vans, ambulances, police vehicles, MD and HD trucks and wrecker/carrier trucks, in addition to a full portfolio of passenger carrying vehicles, LD trucks, full size vans, and minivans.  This includes various fuel types, including AFVs.

Agencies requiring something more customized or with more immediate needs can use GSA’s Non-Standards Program, Express Desk, or GSA Schedule. A description of these options can be found below; however, for more details, please contact GSA’s Vehicle Purchasing Branch at (844) 472-1200 or by email at

Non-Standards Program

GSA Automotive can help agencies customize any non-tactical vehicle need and can provide design/build services to include project planning, design, build, and project management through delivery of a customized vehicle. Contact GSA Fleet’s Engineering Division for additional details.

Express Desk

Sometimes agencies have an urgent need for a vehicle solution. Express Desk can help agencies purchase off-the-lot vehicle solutions for delivery within 30 days or less with the proper justifications.

GSA Consolidated Schedule 47QSMD-20-R-0001 Category K

GSA Federal Supply Schedule solutions can also fulfill agency vehicle needs. When using the GSA Consolidated Schedule 47QSMD-20-R-0001 Category K, agencies can access vendors directly to place an order for vehicles or accessories, or they can contact GSA to place the order on their behalf. This schedule offers a wide variety of specialty vehicles and accessories, such as firefighting apparatus, special vocational vehicles, aircraft ground support vehicles, emergency response vehicles, vehicle maintenance services, tires, and much more.

Lease through GSA Fleet

GSA Fleet’s leasing program provides customers with vehicle management support for the life cycle of the vehicle. This support includes vehicle acquisition and disposal, asset management, maintenance and repair, fuel, accident management, and vehicle remarketing. Leasing vehicles from GSA Fleet may reduce your agency’s administrative, management, and functional burdens.

GSA Fleet is supported by a national network of Fleet Management Centers staffed by managers and FSRs, who are responsible for assigning GSA Fleet vehicles and providing administrative support. Additionally, the National Maintenance Control Center supports preventive maintenance and repairs, and the National Accident Management Center ensures best value accident management services.

Lease Commercially or through GSA Schedule

Federal agencies may use GSA Schedule 47QSMD-20-R-0001 Category K to commercially lease sedans, SUVs, and light-duty trucks. GSA Schedule 751 includes current model year vehicles with 12-, 18-, 24-, 30-, and 36-month lease terms. Delivery is 90 to 120 days after receipt of order. Vehicle maintenance is not included on leases. All vehicles meet Federal Vehicle Standards 122 and 307.

Rent through GSA Fleet Short-Term Rental or GSA Schedule

GSA’s short-term rental program partners with commercial rental vendors to provide over 80 vehicle types and 525 equipment items. GSA handles the entire procurement process and provides fuel cards for each request. Requests are competed among all eligible vendors to ensure most favorable pricing. Vehicles can be rented for up to 120 days, and equipment for up to 365 days. More information is available at and online ordering available at Vehicles may also be rented through GSA Schedule 47QSMD-20-R-0001 Category K.

Federal Vehicle Standards

The Federal Vehicle Standards classifies various types and sizes of commercially available vehicles, and establishes minimum technical, quality, and optional equipment specifications.

The standards ensure federal vehicles are:

  • Safe
  • Durable
  • Economical
  • Provide uniformity in the acquisition process.

These standards are developed by GSA and are published annually to cover current model year vehicles.

The Federal Vehicle Standards are publicly posted for comments from interested parties for approximately 45 days during certain parts of the year as part of the annual development, coordination, and maintenance of the standards.

Vehicle Replacement Standards

GSA’s FMR establishes vehicle replacement standards. Agencies acquiring replacement vehicles must follow the fuel-economy criteria. Steps in determining fleet vehicle replacements on a FY basis include:

  • Establishing and justifying requirements for all vehicle users
  • Establishing a system for assigning relative priorities between competing requirements for replacement funding
  • Assigning priorities
  • Determining which priorities receive funding and fine-tuning as necessary.

Motor vehicle replacement standards prescribed in GSA’s FMR § 102-34.270 are minimum requirements all agencies evaluating unit replacement should use. Agencies may replace owned vehicles more frequently as needed.

For vehicles leased through GSA Fleet, each vehicle is measured against GSA Fleet’s motor vehicle replacement standards to determine eligibility for replacement. However, the ultimate decision to replace or retain any given GSA leased vehicle lies with the customer’s local FSR. The FSR’s decision is based on a variety of factors, including the vehicle’s age, mileage, condition, and repair history.

Analysis of Leasing Versus Owning

Completion of a lease/purchase analysis is a good business practice to identify whether leasing or purchasing is in the best interest of the Federal government. Leasing from GSA Fleet provides standardization, economies of scale, and the tools necessary for the effective and efficient management of the Federal fleet. By leveraging a shared-service model, GSA Fleet eliminates redundant operations and programs in the Federal government and provides a unified way of conducting business. Agencies that own their fleets may be constrained by the decentralized structure, which is an obstacle to standardization, encourages duplication, increases cost, and encourages waste. Additionally, agency ownership often results in failures implementing post-action review programs, identifying errors, and adhering to agency policy. GSA Fleet leasing is the leader in cost per mile, vehicle utilization, compliance with environmental policies and regulations, and cost of operations per vehicle within the Federal government. In addition, GSA Fleet better defines roles and responsibilities and monitors activities to ensure compliance with policy—enabling GSA Fleet to enhance effective and efficient management across the GSA leased fleet. All of these factors should be evaluated prior to an agency purchasing and owning vehicles.

Lease AFVs from GSA Fleet

EPAct 2005 requires GSA Fleet to spread the incremental cost of AFVs across the entire fleet. These AFV surcharges are assessed by GSA Fleet at the agency level depending on agency-specific AFV needs. This practice funds the incremental cost of AFVs that are purchased for the customer agency throughout the current fiscal year by adding a surcharge to all inventory vehicles each month. Agencies must generate enough surcharge funding to cover the incremental costs of all AFV orders in the current FY. For more information, please contact GSA Fleet’s AFV Team at

The monthly lease rate of an AFV varies by vehicle type. For this reason, GSA Fleet publishes new AFV lease information at the beginning of each FY. GSA Fleet’s most recent AFV leasing guide, which provides pricing information, is available on its AFV Guides and Manuals web page.

General AFV surcharge information:

  • Appears as a separate line item on GSA Fleet bill
  • Is set annually by the agency headquarters fleet manager
  • Is added as additional monthly cost to all vehicles in an agencies’ inventory to cover current FY incremental costs and applied to a vehicle once the vehicle is in use and incurring monthly bills
  • Is set based on what the agency anticipates spending on AFV incremental costs throughout the fiscal year

At any time throughout the year, an agency may increase, decrease, or turn off its AFV surcharge in accordance with anticipated AFV orders. This is coordinated through the agency headquarters fleet manager.

How GSA Calculates AFV Incremental Costs

AFV incremental costs are provided in GSA Fleet’s annual AFV Guide.  The following calculation is used to determine vehicle incremental costs:

AFV Incremental Cost = Cost of AFV – Cost of lowest priced comparable gasoline vehicle

Example: AFV minivan = $22,000

Lowest bid minivan = $20,000

Incremental cost = $2,000