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August 24, 2007
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All-electric squad car makes debut in Pa.

Related Article: “Hypermiling” the law enforcement way

By Michael Cope
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

CONNELLSVILLE, Penn. The city of Connellsville claims it is the first police department in the nation to have an all-electric police cruiser.

Acquiring the prototype car was a two-year process, said police Chief Steve Cooper.

Two years ago, Dick Oglevee, whose company, United First Responders LLC, of Fayette County, manufactures products and provides training services for first responders, military and the private sector to detect bioterrorist threats, pitched to Cooper his idea to donate a police car for conversion to an all-electric, prototype vehicle.

"Today, we give you that vehicle," Cooper said of the converted 2000 Chevrolet Impala. Its combustion engine was removed for a pure-electric conversion.

At a press conference Wednesday, Oglevee and city officials showed off the first-of-its-kind vehicle.

The Impala's vital statistics:

* It will run for eight hours with a two-hour charge from a 240-volt outlet, which is the type that powers household appliances. In a pinch, officers could fully charge the car in four hours using a 110-volt outlet.

* Maintenance is limited to brakes, rotors and tires; the batteries should last five years.

* The cruiser cannot operate in heavy rain because standing water could destroy its electrical circuits. Light rain and snow are not an issue.

"I think this is something that can be used in the future," Oglevee said.

Jack Fagan works for the Pennsylvania company that made the conversion.

Fagan said Advanced Communications Division of Coherent Systems International Corp. first installed a GPS monitor in a regular cruiser to monitor its daily activities and then tailored the conversion around those demands.

"It's suited for an eight-hour shift," Fagan said. He noted that the vehicle is considered a "slot car," because when the driver depresses the accelerator, there's no lull or lag in the transmission to the engine.

After taking a spin, city Councilman David McIntire said he was impressed with both the acceleration and the power of the electrical car.

"The ride was so smooth," he said.

The car is cheap to operate, said Bob McGowan, vice president and general manager of the company that designed it. The cost to run a car on gasoline for an eight-hour shift costs between $3 and $4, while running an all-electric car for eight hours would cost about 35 cents, he said.

The company will monitor Connellsville's converted car for the next two years with an eye toward developing similar vehicles.

"This is the start of what we hope to be a long-term project," McGowan said, adding that Coherent Systems is working with other state agencies.

Lance Simmens, special assistant to Ed Rendell, said vehicles like Connellsville's fit very well into the governor's strategy to break Pennsylvania from dependence on fossil fuels.

"The fact that is the first prototype in Pennsylvania and in Connellsville is a great honor," Simmens said

Copyright 2007 The Tribune-Review Publishing Co.

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