Mayor Ballard talks hybrid cars in Indy

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Mayor Greg Ballard’s face lights up when he talks about cars.

“That’s a good car,” he said. “I’ve driven that car. We’re gonna get some, you know.”

He’s talking about the Nissan Leaf. A hybrid.

Ballard has developed a special knowledge of such cars as Indianapolis added them to the city’s fleet in 2008.

“To some people, the world had ended,” Ballard said. “But the fact is those cars are still out there and people like them. Because all they’ve pretty much done is change the tires and change the oil. They’re all still running. So those have been great cars for the city.”

The first hybrids were Toyota Camrys. Tuesday, Ballard told 24-Hour News 8, “literally within a couple weeks” the city will announce the addition of Nissan Leafs, Chevy Volts and Ford Fusions.

Ballard said an analysis of the cars reveals they save the city $10,000 to $12,000 a piece over the life-cycle of each car. He also said the technology has improved enough to add more hybrids to the fleet. When the city has the keys to the new cars, they will be assigned based on the driving patterns of the people and the departments getting the cars.

Hybrids appear to have limits.

“We’re still in the process of figuring out what to do with the police cars, trying to get a police car that gets 40 or 50 miles per gallon–a plug-in or something like that–without compromising the safety or integrity of the car,” Ballard said.

So, that will get more study. IMPD does have hybrids for officers who would not need the power of a traditional police cruiser.

“We want to do it in the most cost-effective manner,” Ballard said, “and we think we’re there.”

Battery power isn’t the only option in the city fleet. Ballard said biofuels provide the energy for all Indianapolis Fire Department trucks.

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