Eddie Davis, the City of Temple Terrace’s fleet maintenance foreman, slid into the seat of a two-passenger electric car.
He had just been inside an electric truck whose cab was slightly smaller. From the driver’s seat of the car, Davis smiled at the other city staff members who had gathered to learn more about the “green” vehicles.
“This one has more room,” he told them.
During the next few days, you might see city workers driving around town in these fuel-efficient, environmentally-friendly electric cars. They’re on loan from Suncoast Electric Vehicles until Monday afternoon (June 13) so that city employees can test them out. Eventually, the city might start phasing in these vehicles, replacing some of their older, gas-guzzling automobiles.
“This is the first step,” said Director Robert Gordon. “(We’re) always looking for ways to save money and conserve energy, and there’s a lot of interest in this one.”
Jonathan Nimphie, and his father and business partner, Richard Nimphie, brought the electric vehicles to the city on June 9. Their company, Suncoast Electric Vehicles, is based in St. Petersburg.
The truck, a Vantage vehicle, has a load capacity of about 1,500 pounds and costs about $21,000.
The car, a Wheego vehicle, has front-wheel drive and costs about $18,900.
Both vehicles reach a maximum speed of 40 mph and can go about 40 miles before the lead acid batteries have to be recharged. It costs about 12 cents per kilowatt-hour to recharge the battery.
Three factors contribute to the battery range, Jonathan Nimphie explained: driving habits (the slower a driver accelerates from stop, the more battery power is conserved); terrain (a flatter landscape uses less power); and payload (the lighter the load the less the battery has to work to move the car). Batteries recharge in about six hours.
City staff had several questions about warranties, battery replacement costs and maintenance.
Jonathan Nimphie said the battery on the truck is under warranty for 12 months or 12,000 miles, and the battery for the car is under warranty for 36 months or 36,000 miles. There is no maintenance on the batteries; they cost about $2,600 to replace.
Maintenance to the actual vehicle is minimal, Nimphie continued, and there is a service technician who would come to Temple Terrace to work on the vehicles if city staff needed help.
There are also passenger vans and premium models available. Trucks can be outfitted with ladder racks, toolboxes, topper shells, dump beds and other accessories.
“I think there’s a pretty wide range of things we could use this for,” Gordon said, after seeing the Nimphies' presentation. “We’re excited about the possibilities, especially with the decreasing budget.”
Although the city hasn’t calculated the actual savings yet, the price of the electric vehicles is competitive with other vehicles the city has looked at, Gordon said. And the operating cost of the electric vehicles is a fraction of what the city pays for its gas-powered automobiles, he said.
“I could see this being a portion of our fleet,” he said.
After learning about each of the controls, Davis was ready to take the vehicles for a test drive.
“I’m excited about them,” he said. “It’s kind of the new wave—going green, saving money.”
Check out this video about Suncoast Electric Vehicles that was produced for Patch in March.