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Wauwatosa gets its first electric car

Kevin Hurst plugs in the city of Wauwatosa's new all-electric car into its charging station in the Wauwatosa City Hall garage July 1.

Kevin Hurst plugs in the city of Wauwatosa's new all-electric car into its charging station in the Wauwatosa City Hall garage July 1. Photo By Staff photo by C.T. Kruger

July 1, 2014

It cost an extra $15,000 to make it happen, but now one of Wauwatosa's city vehicles can skip the gas pump entirely and power up on electricity in the garage at City Hall.

"It's a new product so now we're on the front end of it," said Kevin Hurst, traffic and maintenance superintendent for Wauwatosa. "It gives you a whole new perspective on what's going to be out there in the future. Despite the naysayers, electric cars are going to be a big thing."

The city's Ford Focus Electric, which arrived June 25, was the first delivered by Ewald's Venus Ford, according to VIP Director Michelle Dare. Dare helped introduce city staff to the vehicle.

Dare said the vehicle takes about 3.5 hours to get a full charge, and runs for at least 76 miles before needing a recharge. It can go longer, depending on other factors like brake usage.

In a normal car, when a driver pushes the breaks, the car's kinetic energy is converted to heat as it slows down. Dare said a Fusion can capture that energy and send it back into the battery.

Although the car's price tag, at about $31,400, was about $15,000 more than a regular gas-reliant Ford Focus, Hurst expects it to save money in the long run. He estimates the city will save about $1,750 per year by running the car on electricity rather than gas.

At home in the city garage, the car gets plugged into a backpack-sized charger hardwired to the wall, connecting through a hole that looks similar to a gas tank. It doesn't have any city decals yet, but it does have a green leaf on it that residents might spot as it heads to building inspections and code enforcement sites.

The Focus Electric joins the city's hybrid vehicle, which arrived in April. Hurst said he will be keeping a close eye on their costs to calculate actual savings from cars.

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