The Obama administration is buying 101 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid cars and 15 battery-powered electric vehicles as it moves closer to its goal of greening the federal vehicle fleet.

The Chevrolet Volt electric car initially sold for $41,000 when it hit the market last fall. (Jae C. Hong)

“We owe a responsibility to American citizens to lead by example and contribute to meeting our national goals of reducing oil imports by one-third by 2025 and putting one million advanced vehicles on the road by 2015,” President Obama said in a memo on federal fleet performance issued this week. It said that “as soon as practicable” the alternative-fuel vehicles should be located close to fueling stations.

“Living up to that responsibility means the federal fleet should operate only as many vehicles as needed to work efficiently,” Obama wrote, and pledged to leverage federal dollars to build manufacturing capacity for more alternative-fuel vehicles.

The White House also said it expects federal agencies to use “midsize or smaller sedans” to replace the black SUV’s associated with federal executive fleets, except where “large sedans are essential to the agency mission.” Agency heads can exempt cars from the new requirement for a number of purposes, including law enforcement, military purposes and emergency response.

The General Services Administration, which manages the federal fleet, says two electric models, the Nissan Leaf and Think City are now approved for federal purchase.

The hybrids will be leased to more than 20 agencies, GSA Administrator Martha Johnson said.

What do you think? Are hybrid vehicles a good government investment? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.