published Friday, January 4th, 2013

Hamilton County adds Passats to its fleet


New Passats await shipment at Chattanooga’s Volkswagen plant.
New Passats await shipment at Chattanooga’s Volkswagen plant.
Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Hamilton County is the latest local government agency to pull Chattanooga-made Passats into its car fleet.

This week, county commissioners approved a bid from Village Volkswagen to buy the Passats as needed for $26,475 each under a yearlong contract.

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger will take the wheel of the first Passat purchased under the contract.

The 2007 Chevy Impala he now drives, which has about 80,000 miles, will be transferred to the county health department's inspection division, and a car from that department will be sold.

"We are not increasing the countywide fleet," said Coppinger.

Village Volkswagen was the only dealership to submit a bid in the latest call for diesel sedan fleet vehicles, county officials said. But commission finance committee members deemed Village Volkwagen's bid "reasonable."

The Passat has become a favored vehicle among a growing number of local officials, even if it's not always the lowest priced, because the car's "homemade" factor increases its desirability.

"No doubt about it, we're proud we could get a car that's made right here," said Coppinger.

In 2011, Red Bank became the first local city to add Passats to its fleet.

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield has driven a Passat for about a year, and several of the cars are in the city's fleet.

"They've performed excellently," said the mayor's spokesman, Richard Beeland. "They're good midsized cars, and they [get] great gas mileage."

Several months ago, the East Ridge City Council agreed to buy a 2012 Passat for City Manager Tim Gobble.

"It's been wonderful. I highly recommend it," Gobble said Thursday.

The county's contract allows it to buy any Passats it needs during the year without having to rebid before each purchase.

There is no plan to add a significant number to the fleet, Coppinger said.

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