Electric cars added to city fleet

The city’s fleet of green vehicles already includes 50 hybrids, more than 230 vehicles that can run on E-85 fuel and 10 clean diesel vehicles. Now, add to that list Minneapolis’ first two all-electric vehicles, unveiled Monday morning at the Royalston Public Works Facility.

Mayor R.T. Rybak was on hand to take the e-ride EXV4, styled like a miniature Jeep, on a test drive. Both the EXV4 and a new ZENN electric, a compact two-seater, will be used by city licensing inspectors to visit Downtown businesses.

The vehicles cost about $20,000 each. They have similar performance profiles, too: a range of about 20–35 miles on a full charge, with a top speed of about 25 mph.
Rybak said the vehicles would be well suited to short trips on Downtown streets.

“These are not cars we are going to use to send the fire fighters out,” he quipped.

Kurt Bauerly of e-ride, based in Princeton, Minn., said its EXV4 should require little maintenance compared to a typical gas-powered vehicle, which has many more moving parts.

“This is a great solution for saving money on both fuel and maintenance,” Bauerly said.
According to city estimates, the 7 kilowatts of electricity required to bring the vehicles’ batteries up to a full charge costs just 56 cents.

The ZENN electric car was purchased at Cushman Motor Co., 2909 E. Franklin Ave. The ZENN, or Zero Emissions No Noise, car was manufactured in France and then retrofitted with a 75-volt electric motor and batteries in Canada.

Company President Timothy Commers said Cushman had sold electric vehicles for 40 or 50 years, mostly for industrial applications. But the market was beginning to change and expand, Commers said.

Burt Osborne, director of the city Regulatory Services, said licensing inspectors would be asked to choose one of the new electric cars over other vehicles whenever possible. Osborne was eager for feedback on how the two vehicles compare when tested in Minnesota’s sometimes-harsh road conditions.

“We’re excited that we’ll have a winter to test them,” he said.