THE CITY of Terrace is buying an experimental car lent to it a year and a half ago by BC Hydro.
The 2007 hybrid Toyota Prius had $25,000 worth of modifications done so the vehicle could be recharged by plugging into an outlet at city hall.
In a report to council, city official Heather Nunn noted that the battery installed to convert the hybrid to a plug-in has a three-year limited warranty and a replacement price tag of $13,395.
She said the modifications made it difficult to establish price comparisons and that a similar model won’t be on the market until 2013, costing around $30,000.
Nunn said a standard 2007 hybrid carries a price of anywhere from $14,000 to $19,000.
BC Hydro also spent $25,000 to install 12 solar panels on the roof of city hall with the intent of producing power to offset the city’s costs to charge the battery.
City officials say the solar panels produce enough power to run a small space heater.
BC Hydro at first wanted $19,000 for the vehicle but city officials negotiated the price down to $17,000. The vehicle currently has 30,500 kilometres on it.
While the city hasn’t budgeted to purchase a new vehicle, it will replace an older one which could sell for up to $1,500.
Council debated the purchase, which came before council at $18,000, during an Oct. 24 meeting. Council voted to purchase the car, leaving it to city officials to get a deal.
Councillor Bruce Martindale did express reservations, wondering about ongoing costs.
These batteries won’t last,” he said. “If we’re serious about providing hybrid vehicles, there’s better ones where we know what the long-term costs will be.”
Mayor Dave Pernarowski did suggest because the car is a test car, that could be added into the negotiations.
Councillor Carol Leclerc added her family has a Toyota Prius and loves the car, but agreed that taking on the plug-in hybrid was somewhat of a project.
Councillor Lynne Christiansen added she too had some similar reservations but ultimately would be in favour of the purchase.
“I like supporting green energy projects,” she said. “We should go ahead with it.”
BC Hydro originally said it wanted the city to test the vehicle to determine its usefulness in a northern climate.