The Oakland Police Department recently received two electric cars, seen on Tuesday, to join the fleet for administrative use. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

OAKLAND — Electric cars have arrived at the Oakland Police Department at no initial charge to the town’s taxpayers thanks to a program with Efficiency Maine.

Two 2022 Hyundai Kona EV’s will be used as administrative vehicles assigned to Oakland Police Department Chief Mike Tracy and Deputy Chief Rick Stubbert for the next three years. The department will analyze cost of ownership, dependability and performance.

“The chief uses it for his everyday duties; the deputy chief/detective uses it for everyday duties,” Stubbert said. “They’re not going to be on patrol.”

The Oakland Police Department recently received two electric cars, seen on Tuesday, to join the fleet for administrative use. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Rebates from the Augusta-based, quasi-public nonprofit Efficiency Maine bring the cars here at no initial cost to the town. Electric cars improve energy use and efficiency and reduce greenhouse gases.

To pay for the car purchases, Efficiency Maine provided rebates to 24 governmental entities around the state including municipalities, school districts and the Cumberland Police Department.

Funds for the $5.1 million worth of rebates came from Maine’s settlement in a 2018 multibillion-dollar lawsuit against Volkswagen vehicles.

“The rebate program for governmental entities is an important pillar of Efficiency Maine’s EV initiatives,” said Amalia Siegel, program manager for Efficiency Maine’s Electric Vehicle Program. “In addition to saving taxpayers thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the vehicles due to lower fuel and maintenance costs, placing electric vehicles in the hands of public entities increases the public’s exposure to these vehicles and helps them to learn that these vehicles are a viable transportation option. They work in Maine, they are enjoyable to drive, they cost less to drive and maintain, and they dramatically reduce carbon emissions.”

Oakland Town Manager Gary Bowman found out about the program through the Maine Municipal Association and the town completed its application process.

The Oakland Police Department recently received two electric cars, seen on Tuesday, to join the fleet for administrative use. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

The town could have bought up to four cars, but that many would’ve been “overkill,” Bowman said. It’s no guarantee electric calls are the wave of the future, but it’s certainly a possibility.

“It gives us a chance to really test these things for dependability and function in the cold weather,” Bowman said. “Just the practicality of it… It’s kind of a test run for us.”

Stubbert said he likes the drive of the car, but it takes getting used to. The vehicles can go approximately 220 miles on a full charge and require zero gas. There are no oil changes required.

The police station is in the process of installing charging stations for the two Oakland Police Department vehicles.

“I think there’s a lot of upside to it,” Stubbert said. “It’s a good, solid vehicle and they’re environmentally friendly as well. We want to see how it works as a police vehicle, and we’ll go from there.”

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