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City News

It’s electric: Richfield adds two electric vehicles to city fleet

Post Date:06/21/2019 1:06 PM

Electric vehicle 3 

Promoting and enhancing sustainability initiatives is important for present and future generations. The City of Richfield has furthered its commitment to sustainability by adding two electric vehicles to the city’s fleet.

The addition of the two 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs coincides with a 2015 city council directive that asked the city to reduce its carbon emissions moving forward. The directive specifically asked the city to look into the feasibility of adding hybrid or electric vehicles to the city fleet.

“Adding hybrid and electric vehicles to the city’s fleet is a positive move forward for sustainability,” said Ward 2 Councilmember Edwina Garcia. “As a city, we need to be innovative and progressive, especially when it comes to protecting the environment.”

The city did not, however, want to start purchasing hybrid or electric vehicles before doing its homework.

“As an organization, we want to do the right thing, but sometimes doing the right thing takes time,” explained Operations Superintendent Chris Link. “We could have bought several hybrid or electric vehicles back in 2015 when the city council directive came down, but to be honest, the technology and the price point were prohibitive at the time. Now, we have the vehicles we need that can do the job.”   

The 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs achieve 74 miles per gallon when using a combination of gas and electric power. The vehicles can also travel 22 miles utilizing solely electric power.

The two new vehicles will reduce the city’s transportation carbon emissions. They will require less gas and oil changes, compared to traditional vehicles that do not utilize electric power.

“This is a starting point for the future of the city’s fleet, a jumping off point as we examine replacing our pick-up trucks, police vehicles, dump trucks, and more,” exclaimed Link.

The city is not content with just adding two hybrid or electric vehicles to the fleet. It is in the process of examining what other departments and city functions could benefit from replacing existing internal combustion vehicles with their more sustainable counterparts. As current city vehicles exceed their life-expectancy, it is hoped that many of these vehicles can be replaced with hybrid or electric vehicles.

As of now, the city is exploring adding three additional hybrid or electric vehicles to the city’s fleet in 2020.

One of the new electric vehicles is utilized by the Public Works Department’s Engineering Division. It is used for transportation to construction projects and inspections. The second vehicle acts as the primary vehicle for the Recreation Services Department.

Thus far, city staff has embraced the addition of these two new vehicles to the city’s fleet.

“Getting these vehicles is exciting,” remarked Public Works Department Analyst Scott Kulzer. “As a small city, our staff needs to drive around town and what better to do that than an electric vehicle. Limited range electric vehicles work well for what we do.”

Few cities of comparable geographic size and population to Richfield have embraced the adoption of hybrid or electric vehicles. Their inclusion in the city’s fleet is another example of the city living out its core value of “leading the way.”

The environmental benefits to the city are numerous, including saving money, as gas is more expensive than electricity, reducing or even eliminating emissions, depending on the length of the trip.

The latter is especially helpful as Richfield has a compact land area so these cars wouldn’t be driving around a huge city needing to charge regularly. Financially, by decreasing equipment operating charges, the city will see a direct correlation to resources in the general fund, as well as annual expenses.

“These vehicles have an obvious environmental and economic benefit for the city, but it’s also a great opportunity for Richfield to lead by example on sustainability topics,” beamed Richfield GreenCorps member Rachel Lindholm. “Using hybrid electric vehicles in the community is a visible example of the city’s commitment to ‘greening’ its own behaviors, as well as sharing new technology and resources with residents.”

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