Village officials see electric car demonstration

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With the price of gasoline climbing and concerns about the greenhouses gases growing nationwide, local officials are looking for ways to take a more environmentally friendly approach to driving.

About 10 East Hampton Village officials last week heard a presentation on the Miles ZX40SAD—a $19,195 four-passenger electric car that can be driven for 40 to 60 miles before it must be recharged. Two representatives of the Amityville-based company Motorworks Clean Vehicles demonstrated the vehicle at the village’s public works headquarters on Accabonac Road on Wednesday morning, April 2.

“This is kind of vehicle you could utilize on parks and beaches and areas where you are doing just local driving,” said Gary Birke, the owner of Clean Vehicles, the exclusive Long Island dealer for the car.

According New York State law, an electric car is not allowed to be driven at speeds over 25 mph on public roads, Mr. Birke said. In order to comply with that rule, the car is programmed to reach a maximum speed of 25 mph even though it can go up to 35 or 40.

The car is manufactured in China by the Miles Electric Vehicles company, an American company that has headquarters in Santa Monica, California.

Mr. Birke said on Wednesday that the car produced no exhaust emissions and requires about four to six hours to fully charge its battery using a 110-volt power outlet. According to the Clean Vehicle’s web site, the ZX40SAD weighs almost 3,000 pounds and can go from 0 to 20 mph in 5.95 seconds.

Hugh McIvor, the marketing director for Clean Vehicles, said on Wednesday that his company had sold electric cars to some universities, including Queens College, The State University at Farmingdale, and the New York Institute of Technology in Manhattan, and has also met with officials from other local governments on Long Island including Southampton Town and Babylon. He described the car as ideal for use in a small community within a confined area for day-to-day activities.

The Village Board members and department heads in attendance were given the opportunity to take the car for a spin around the neighborhood.

Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach said he “applauds the initiative” of Mr. Birke and Mr. McIvor, but wondered if the car’s 40- to- 60-mile driving range would be long enough for use in the village each day.

“I think you are very quickly going to achieve that maximum,” Mr. Rickenbach said.

In a phone interview after the demonstration, Village Administrator Larry Cantwell said that the village already owns one electric vehicle—a $12,000 car manufactured by Global Electric Motorcars that was given to the village’s police department under a federal government program a few years ago. It is used for traffic enforcement. The village is considering replacing it with a newer vehicle, he said.

In January, Mr. Cantwell completed a report on the village’s fleet of vehicles, and asserted that the village officials should buy more fuel-efficient cars in the future.

“It’s clear that (Village Board members) want different kinds of vehicles that are more energy efficient and more environmentally friendly,” Mr. Cantwell said. He added that the representatives from Clean Vehicles were “very frank” in explaining that the vehicle had a limited use because of its speed, range, and size.

Mr. Cantwell said that Scott Fithian, the head of the Public Works Department, was possibly interested in buying a pick-up truck model of the electric vehicle. Despite their interest, he said, village officials have not made any decisions about buying a new electric car.

“At the moment I think everyone is just digesting what they saw,” Mr. Cantwell said. “No decisions are made at this point.”

While an older model of the electric car is available to municipalities through their state purchasing contracts, which provide for discounted rates, Mr. McIvor said that he expects the newest model to be put on the contract later this year, where it would cost $1,000 less than the market price of just under $20,000.

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