07/08/08 — Mount Olive adds an electric pickup to its fleet

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Mount Olive adds an electric pickup to its fleet

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 8, 2008 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- The town's newest vehicle looks like it would be more at home in a science fiction movie than on the streets of Mount Olive. And instead of drinking up the pricey fuel at the gas pump, all it takes is a little charge of electricity to keep it going.

The new vehicle, an electric-powered GEM eL XD pickup truck made by Chrysler, was delivered Monday just in time for the town board's monthly session.

Its top speed is about 25 mph, but that is as fast as the town's water-meter crews need to travel anyway, said Town Manager Charles Brown.

News-Argus/ GREG SOUSA

Deems Blanton, left, Mount Olive's waste treatment plant supervisor, and Commissioner Kenny Talton check out the newest addition to the town's fleet -- an electric-powered GEM eL XD pickup truck.

Commissioners and town officials were chauffeured around the block -- one at a time -- just prior to, and following their meeting.

It will cost only about 2.3 cents per mile to operate and could save the town around $2,000 annually in fuel cost.

Purchased from a Greenville Chrysler dealership, the vehicle cost about $12,000 -- some $13,000 less than a pickup. It will run for 40 miles on a charge and will cost 90 cents to recharge it.

By the end of the first year, those factors will put the town about $15,000 ahead, Brown said.

The enclosed two-person cab has a pickup truck bed for transporting items.

The town had been in the process of replacing a small pickup truck in its water department for meter-reading crews when Deems Blanton, the town's waste treatment plant supervisor, suggested the electric vehicle.

"He came to me with the idea," Brown said.

The upfront savings and not having to put gas in it, make it an attractive option, Brown said.

It is certified by the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles and has all of the safety equipment, lights and turn signals and seat belts.

Brown said some people thought the vehicle was being used to replace the town's golf cart. It isn't; it is replacing a small pickup truck.

Brown said electric vehicles probably wouldn't be practical in some departments, such as for police. However, he said the water-meter crews have established routes within the town making the electric truck a good fit and an excellent way to save on fuel.

Commissioner Gene Lee called the vehicle the "wave of the future."

"It is good for the town," he said. "We are looking out for the people of Mount Olive."

Minutes later, Lee was in the vehicle for his turn around the block.