HELENA, MT - According to the Montana Department of Transportation (DOT), the state's fleet has managed to surpass its fuel efficiency goal of 30 mpg by 2010, reported The Missoulian.

The agency set a goal two years ago to reach an average of 30 miles per gallon in its fleet of vehicles by 2010 and has already surpassed that goal at 31 mph, said director Jim Lynch.

Newest "green" vehicles added to the state fleet are 98 hybrids, including the Ford Escape SUV, the Toyota Prius, and Honda Civic. Lynch said the plan is to buy another 27 new hybrids this spring, including some SUVs, for an expected fleetwide average of 31.6 miles per gallon to 34.2 miles per gallon.

While hybrids cost more, their resale value is often higher. Two older hybrids sold at auction for $7,000 and $8,900 while an older Ford Taurus might sell for $3,000 to $5,000, Lynch said.

The increased gas mileage of hybrids saves the state money on fuel costs over their useful life of about six years, he said.

Lawmakers sought to make the fleet more fuel efficient in 2007 after fuel costs for 2005 through 2007 exceeded the motor pool's budget by about $5 million.