Council makes Toyota ‘official vehicle’ for SD lifeguards

By James R. Riffel

City News Service

The City Council on Monday unanimously approved marketing partnerships in which Toyota will provide nearly three dozen new vehicles to San Diego’s lifeguards and Sprint Solutions will provide wireless services.

The two-year agreement with Toyota will provide lifeguards with 34 vehicles and could be worth as much as $1.1 million if renewed for an additional two years, according to Mary Lewis, the city’s chief financial officer.

Toyota will be known as the official vehicle’’ of San Diego’s lifeguards, and dealers can use the phrase in advertising and other promotional material.

The auto company will also be able to conduct promotional events at city facilities, take part in lifeguard events, display its logo on the city’s website and be allowed to directly market to municipal employees, retirees and owners of businesses licensed by the city.

Since the city will not have to pay for new vehicles, about $245,000 will be saved annually, according to Lewis.

Under terms of the contract, lifeguards will receive the following 2012 model-year vehicles:

• three Toyota Sequoia 4WD SUVs;

• four Toyota 4Runner 4x4 SUVs;

• 15 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab 4x4 trucks (short bed);

• 11 Toyota Tundra CrewMax 4x4 trucks; and

• one Toyota Tundra Double Cab 4x4 truck.

Lewis said 31 of the lifeguards’ current vehicles are overdue for replacement. Some will be auctioned off but some others could be redirected to other city departments. General Motors and McCune Chrysler-Jeep provided lifeguard vehicles under previous deals.

Sprint will pay $100,000 for two years, with three one-year options, and will be able to call itself the official wireless partner of the city of San Diego’’ and also market to employees.

City officials are trying to entice other companies into marketing partnerships, and included $800,000 in sponsorship income for the current fiscal year.

I look forward to a lot more of these types of partnerships,’'

Councilman David Alvarez said.