A new Bangor police vehicle has gotten a lot of attention, not just due to its diminutive size: It’s the first totally electric vehicle in the department. The vehicle is not a patrol vehicle. Doug Smith, the police force’s court officer, uses it frequently to travel between the Penobscot Judicial Center and the police station. The Overdose Response Team may employ it in the future, according to Sgt. Wade Betters, the department spokesperson.
It is among the two electric vehicles purchased by the city in June, including another for the department of parks and recreation, as part of a bigger attempt to minimize the city’s carbon impact. The department’s car usage could be a harbinger to a bigger transition away from the fossil fuels throughout the state, as Mainers continue to be concerned about the implications of climate change. Officials see it as a chance to improve relations with local citizens who are becoming more environmentally conscious.
“This allows us to demonstrate to the public that we are serious about this,” Betters added, “and that we took advantage of the chance to have a fully electric car on the road.” According to Betters, the vehicle can be charged at any ordinary wall socket and can generally run for several days before needing to be recharged.
Due to rebate schemes from Hyundai and Efficiency Maine, both vehicles will cost the city almost nothing, according to public works director Aaron Huotari. The vehicles were leased to the city from the Quirk Hyundai of Bangor on the Haskell Road for a period of time. Huotari stated, “That’s kind of a no-brainer to offer it a try.” “So, we took that and ran with it.”
Other Maine police departments, such as the Thomaston as well as Oakland police departments, have recently purchased electric cars. Departments throughout the country have taken similar steps, resulting in cheaper cars and longer battery life. Betters stated that an electric police vehicle wasn’t out of the range in the future. Bangor police employ four of its five hybrid SUVs for patrols. However, it is unclear if the batteries in electric vehicles will be able to withstand the extra energy usage needed for heating during Maine’s winter.
According to Huotari, City Council has also authorized purchasing a third electric vehicle, which is a utility vehicle that the public works’ downtown custodian will use. While this city has the option to buy the automobiles at the completion of their lease, Huotari said the city is presently in the appraisal process. The city also intends to monitor how the batteries hold up over time and how they perform in the cold. Huotari stated, “There still is a lot to learn.” “We haven’t gotten there yet.”