City adds first electric car to its fleet

BRYAN EATON/Staff PhotoNewburyport parking enforcement officer Tim Foley shows off the electric car that he and fellow employees will be using in their duties. The car will be on the road in about a week as soon as the charging station at the State Street parking lot is connected. There are two stations, which are also open for public use.

NEWBURYPORT — Already a “green community,” Newburyport just got a little greener with the newest addition to city equipment — an electric car.

City officials recently took possession of a 2015 Ford Focus, a fully electric vehicle that does not use gasoline. It will be used primarily by parking enforcement officials as they patrol the city.

The vehicle cost about $28,000, which has been covered by a state grant given to communities making a sustained effort to use less fossil fuel.

“This represents the wave of the future,” said City Clerk Richard Jones, who supervises the parking enforcement department. “In coming years there will be many more electric cars on our streets.”

To accommodate this vehicle and others, city officials recently installed a two-unit charging station in the State Street parking lot next to the library.

That station will be available for citizens, as well as the city’s parking officials. The $7,500 cost for the station was also funded by the grant.

The city’s new car has to be recharged after each 110 miles. Though some “electric cars” also have gasoline engines in case they run out of power, the city’s auto is solely electric.

“For visitors to Newburyport, there is an app that tells electric car owners where charging stations are located,” said Nancy London, the city’s grant writer who worked to secure the funding. “Visitors will know where they can get more energy.”

The charging station costs $1.50 per hour. It can take up to three hours for a car to be charged.

The new vehicle has a single-speed transmission and a regenerative braking system.

The city’s former enforcement vehicle, a Honda Prius hybrid, will be used by city officials who need a car to carry out local tasks.

London estimated there might be about 70 privately owned electric cars in the Newburyport area.

“We’re a green city and we pursue activity that will use less energy,” London said. “We try to pursue programs that will make us greener.”

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