MAYOR HAS NEW WHEELS: COUNTY UNVEILS PLUG-IN HYBRID ELECTRIC TEST CAR

April 7, 2009, 10:36 AM HST · Updated April 9, 11:12 AM
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Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares will be driving a different car around over the next several months.  The recently converted plug-in electric vehicle was unveiled yesterday in front of the county building.  The Hybrid Toyota Prius is one of just 130 vehicles taking part in a national study to further develop advances in automotive technology and data automation.

Mayor Tavares looks under the hood of the County's new plug-in hybrid Toyota Prius.

Mayor Tavares looks under the hood of the County's new plug-in hybrid Toyota Prius.

The county acquired the vehicle several years ago and just recently converted it to a plug-in.

“Projected savings will probably come in the gas,” said Tavares.  “The difference in miles per gallon is double what everything else gets, so we save 50% of the gas for that vehicle,” she said.

One of the first tasks will be to drive the car to Hana for the weekend blessing of the new dialysis facility in East Maui.  Tavares said the vehicle is capable of making it there and back, but probably not on its batteries alone.

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“If you get up to a certain speed, or a certain inclination, then the gas engine kicks in, so it’s a combination of battery and gas,” said Tavares.

County officials estimate mileage per gallon to be between 60 and 70 mpg.

“If we had a fleet of these and it saved “x” over whatever it its…if we’re looking at even a 25% reduction in our fuel cost, that is huge, because we have such a big fuel cost for our county,” said Tavares.

County Energy Commissioner Victor Reyes shows Mayor Tavares her new wheels. Tavares made renewable energy one of her top issues and the test program is in line with her goals for sustainability.

County Energy Commissioner Victor Reyes shows Mayor Tavares her new wheels. Tavares made renewable energy one of her top issues and the test program is in line with her goals for sustainability.

Mayor Tavares said this type of rechargeable car could be useful for programs such as meals on wheels and human service programs that tend to use regular cars that are not specialized.  The hybrid electric test car is rechargeable and will be able to wirelessly transmit data for review and analysis.  The county owned vehicle is part of a national advanced technology vehicle study being conducted in cooperation with the Idaho National Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy.

(Photos and Story By Wendy OSHER © 2009)

The Unveiling: The Maui county-owned Toyota Prius is one of 130 vehicles in the national study. The vehicle can travel up to 35 miles with a single charge.

The Unveiling: The Maui county-owned Toyota Prius is one of 130 vehicles in the national study. The vehicle can travel up to 35 miles with a single charge.

Students in the Maui High School automotive program participated in the conversion. Students were able to obersve and assist, providing the young technitians with knowlege in the emergeing field of electric vehicle propulsion.

Students in the Maui High School automotive program participated in the conversion. Students were able to observe and assist, providing the young technicians with knowledge in the emerging field of electric vehicle propulsion.

Mayor Tavares will drive the new plug-in to Hana this weekend for the dedication of the new dialysis center in East Maui. The vehicle's performance is being monitored via remote and wireless connection.

Mayor Tavares will drive the new plug-in to Hana this weekend for the dedication of the new dialysis center in East Maui. The vehicle's performance is being monitored via remote and wireless connection.

The Toyota Prius features a Hymotion L5 conversion kit that sits in the tail end of the vehicle and weighs approximately 187 pounds.

The Toyota Prius features a Hymotion L5 conversion kit that sits in the tail end of the vehicle and weighs approximately 187 pounds.

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