City of Austin official insists taxpayers not taken for a ride with purchase of Mercedes Benz vans

Mercedes Benz hood ornament

With an eye toward the environment, Austin officials have outfitted the city fleet with vans by luxury carmaker Mercedes Benz, KEYE TV reports.

The 2010 Mercedes Benz vans cost about $17,000 more than the comparable Ford and $5,000 more than the comparable Chevrolet. However, city of Austin officials say they expect to recoup $10,000 in fuel savings from the Benz vans, which run on biodiesel. City fleet manager Gerry Calk says when you factor the Benz’s higher resale value, the purchase makes sense.

The Mercedes Benz model still ends up being “slightly more expensive” over its lifetime than the similar model from Ford, but less expensive than the similar Chevrolet, KEYE reports.

The news came as a surprise to longtime Mercedes car owner Frank Muller, who pointed out that once the warranty on a Mercedes expires, the cost rises for repairs.

“Certainly a Mercedes is not something that I would think is appropriate,” Muller told the TV station.

However, Calk insists he’s not taking Austin taxpayers for a ride.

“My goal in life, if you will, is to make sure taxpayers get the best bang for their buck for every dollar we spend,” Calk tells KEYE.

***
Contact Curt Olson at curt@texaswatchdog.org or 512-557-3800. Follow him on Twitter @olson_curt.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of Mercedes Benz hood ornament by flickr user JWSherman, used via a Creative Commons license.