Government fleets have been among the first to go green in a big way, exceeded perhaps only by some private sector firms. The latest government agency to take up the environmental banner is the New York Police Department (NYPD), which today deployed 40 Nissan Altima Hybrids in its fleet.

The cars will include 18 marked vehicles and 22 unmarked. They will patrol and serve throughout the New York City area, both in larger, more open precincts and in some of the most congested urban precincts in the country.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was enthusiastic about the benefits of the hybrids, saying, “These new patrol cars will help fulfill the PlaNYC goal of reducing City government’s carbon footprint. Through savings in fuel, these Altimas can quickly cover their additional cost, from then they will save taxpayers money – another example of how going green is good for our environment and our pocketbooks.”

The NYPD has already used some hybrids among its parking enforcement fleet, but the Nissan Altima Hybrids are the first to be used as regular police cars. The Altima Hybrid was chosen because of its low cost and godo fuel performance - it costs just $1,500 more than a standard police-spec Chevrolet Impala and delivers 35mpg to the Impala's 16mpg.

After a year of in-fleet testing, the NYPD will evaluate whether they should add more to the fleet or search for a different solution.