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County Hits Road With 34 Hybrids

September 17, 2005

With gasoline approaching $4 a gallon, Westchester County’s addition of 34 new hybrid vehicles to its fleet of county cars couldn’t come at the better time.

“The Honda Civic hybrids we just purchased get 47 miles to a gallon of gas compared to the 25-mile-a gallon mileage of the vehicles they are replacing,’’ said Spano. “Not only are we saving money on gas, but we are saving the environment since these new vehicles have very low emissions as well.’’

The 34 new cars include Honda Civics and Accords and Ford Escape SUVs. Excluding emergency and police vehicles, the hybrids now account for about 9 percent of the county’s 250 vehicles.

Hybrid technology (from Wikipedia) combines ultra-fuel efficient gasoline powered engines with an electric motor. Hybrid vehicles can be powered by the gasoline engine working alone, the electric motor by itself, or by both working together.

When stopped at a traffic light or in a traffic jam, a hybrid will burn no gas. Although the fuel economy varies, generally the Honda Civic and Accord hybrid vehicles can travel l, 650 miles on a tank of gas. And compared to its gas guzzling counterparts, the Ford Escape SUV hybrid can travel 400 miles on a tank.

In addition, the emissions reductions as compared to standard vehicles are substantial. There is an 85-97 percent reduction in hydrocarbons, 50 percent reduction in carbon monoxide and 50 percent reduction in oxides of nitrogen.

The Honda Civic hybrids have an estimated 47 MPG as compared with the 25 MPG of the vehicles they replaced. The Honda Accord hybrids have an estimated 34 MPG, replacing vehicles that got 20 MPG; and the Ford Escape SUV hybrid has an estimated 33 MPG, replacing SUV vehicles that got 15 MPG.

“We made a commitment to operate our fleet with cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicles that are safe and reliable. I’m pleased that we have begun to reach that goal,” Spano added.

The county plans to purchase another 40 hybrid vehicles in 2006 to replace those in its fleet.

In addition to the use of the hybrid vehicles, the county has made a number of changes to its vehicle maintenance program that are not only saving gas, but extending the life of vehicles and saving money.

The new maintenance plan includes the use of synthetic motor oil to reduce engine wear, and prolong engine life; the use of new, longer-lasting rotors and brake pads and the addition of air intake filters on police vehicle to improve gas mileage. These operational changes are estimated to have saved the county $163,000 a year in parts on vehicles and about 30,000 gallons of gasoline.

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