A new car from Bangor Police is not only due to its small size but also the first fully electric vehicle of the department.
The car is not a patrol car. It is primarily used by the force’s court officer, Doug Smith, who frequently travels back and forth between the police station and the Penobscot Judicial Center. It may also be used in the future by the Overdose Response Team, said department spokesman Sgt. Wade Daughters said on Wednesday.
It is one of two electric vehicles it acquired in June, along with another to be used by the Department of Parks and Recreation, as part of a larger effort to reduce its carbon footprint.
As Mainers continues to worry about the effects of climate change, car use by the department could be a harbinger of a larger transition away from fossil fuels across the state. Officials also see this as an opportunity to build goodwill with city residents who are increasingly environmentally conscious.
“It allows us to show the public that we take this seriously,” Betters said, “and we seized the opportunity to get fully electric vehicles on the road.”
The car can be charged in any standard wall outlet and can usually run through its routes for a few days before being recharged, Betters said.
Public Works Director Aaron Huotari said on Wednesday that both vehicles are costing the city practically nothing due to discount programs from Hyundai and Efficiency Maine. The city acquired the vehicles from Quirk Hyundai of Bangor on Haskell Road under a multi-year lease.
“It’s kind of a no-brainer to try it,” Huotari said. “So, we got away with it.”
Other police departments in Maine have recently acquired electric cars, including the Thomson and Oakland Police Departments. Departments across the country have taken similar steps as such cars have become more affordable and built with longer battery life.
Betters said an electric petrol car was not out of the question for the future. Of the five hybrid SUVs of Bangor police, four are used for patrolling. However, it remains to be seen whether batteries from electric vehicles will be able to handle the increased battery usage required for heating during Maine’s winter.
Huotari said the city council has also approved the acquisition of a third electric car, a utility vehicle, to be used by the downtown custodian of public works.
While the city has the ability to buy cars at the end of its lease, it is currently in the evaluation stage, Huotari said. Besides how they’ll work in winter, the city also wants to see how strong the batteries last over time.
“There’s still a lot to learn,” Huotari said. “We’re not there yet.”