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Last updated 3:58PM ET
December 14, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Cities Eye Electric Vehicles
(2008-07-17)
TOP: An all electric utility truck gets the once over by city employees

MIDDLE: Where's the engine?

BOTTOM: Durango City Manager Ron LeBlanc, behind the wheel, gets pointers from Smart Wheels owner Stu MacPhail prior to his test drive.
(Photos: Victor Locke, KSUT)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: At least two Southwest Colorado communities may soon turn to all electric vehicles for some of their services, to offset the high cost of gasoline and diesel fuel.
Several types of all electric vehicles zipped through Durango's Greenmount Cemetery today (Thursday) as part of a demonstration for municipal officials.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

MACPHAIL: ALL YOU HAVE TO DO TO OPERATE AN ELECTRIC CAR IS TURN ON THE IGNITION, RELEASE THE EMERGENCY BRAKE, PUT IT IN GEAR AND OFF YOU GO.
VICTOR: Stu MacPhail of Smart Wheels, a Denver electric vehicle dealership climbed into the two passenger EXV4 all electric utility truck and whined our way up a hill in it at Greenmount cemetery.
This vehicle and several other all electric vehicles were on display for municipal officials.
MacPhail along with Ian Frech, owner of Durango Based Insight Energy, put on the demonstration.
MacPhail talks about the benefits of the all electrics.
MACPHAIL: FIRST OF ALL IT OPERATES ENTIRELY ON ELECTRICITY, THERE'S NO GAS, IT'S NOT A HYBRID. THIS PARTICULAR UNIT WE'RE IN WILL RUN ANYWHERE FROM FORTY TO FIFTY MILES PER CHARGE, YOU CHARGE IT JUST LIKE YOU DO A CELLPHONE, PLUG IT IN AT NIGHT AND IT'S READY TO GO IN THE MORNING. THERE ARE SO FEW PARTS IN THESE THINGS, YOU DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT RADIATORS, OIL SYSTEMS, EMISSION CONTROL EQUIPMENT, THE MANY MANY DOZENS OR HUNDREDS OF PARTS THAT THERE ARE IN AN INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE, SO YOUR MAINTENANCE IS WAY LOW AND THERE'S JUST NOT A LOT TO WEAR OUT.
The vehicles demonstrated range in price from about 16 thousand to 23 thousand dollars, with some options available.
The demonstration drew numerous Durango city staff members, including Tom Kramer, city facilities and fleet manager, who sees lots of uses for the all electric vehicles.
KRAMER: WHAT WE'RE LOOKING AT NOW IS IN TOWN USE FOR PARKING AND CODE COMPLIANCE. BECAUSE THEY DON'T GO OVER 25 YOU CAN'T TAKE THEM OUT ON NORTH MAIN BUT YOU CAN USE THEM RIGHT IN TOWN. THE OTHER APPLICATION WOULD BE CITY PARKS, WE HAVE A PARK RANGER THAT PATROLS THE PARK PATH, THAT WOULD BE ANOTHER APPLICATION WE COULD UTILIZE ONE OF THESE SIZED VEHICLES.
There's no doubt the vehicles could save money.
Kramer estimates it costs 4-5 thousand dollars a year to fuel and maintain each gas vans the city uses.
Rick Smith is general services manager in Cortez.
He says they definitely plan to convert some of their fleet to all electric vehicles for some city services, parks and airport use.
SMITH: RIGHT NOW OUR SHORT TERM GOAL IS, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A PRETTY BIG AUCTION IN SEPTEMBER AND WE'VE ALREADY EARMARKED A BIG PORTION OF THE PROCEEDS FROM THAT TO GO TO BUY THESE. AND THEN I THINK DOWN THE ROAD YOU'LL LOOK AT SOME OF THE HYBRIDS FOR POLICE VEHICLES.
After taking his test drive, Smith told me he was impressed.
SMITH: IT WAS PRETTY RESPONSIVE AND SMOOTH, THE BREAKING WAS A BIT DIFFERENT BUT YOU GET USED TO IT.
Durango city manager Ron LeBlanc also was impressed.
LEBLANC: WENT SHOCKINGLY WELL. I WAS AMAZED AT HOW SPIRITED THE POWER TRAIN WAS AND IT SEEMED TO HANDLE WELL. I THINK THE ASPECT OF BEING ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY IS VERY GOOD AND THERE'S SEVERAL MUNICIPAL OPERATIONS THAT COULD MAKE USE OF THESE VEHICLES THAT STAY BASICALLY DOWNTOWN AND I THINK THAT WE MAY HAVE SOME OPPORTUNITIES TO DEMONSTRATE THESE.
The vehicles did do well climbing the hills at Greenmount.
Some testers did question how well the vehicles would stand up to winter conditions here.
MacPhail doesn't see a problem.
MACPHAIL: THE ONE THAT'S CALLED THE E RIDE THAT'S OUT ON THE ROAD BEING TESTED HERE, THIS ONE RIGHT HERE, IS MADE IN MINNESOTA, PRINCETON MINNESOTA IS WHERE IT'S BUILT, AND THEY'RE USING THEM YEAR ROUND THERE AND THEY HAVE A LITTLE BIT MORE EXTREME WEATHER THAN WE DO.
LeBlanc says he'll wait for a report and recommendations from his fleet department before deciding whether to purchase any of the vehicles.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
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