By JOHN T. WARD
Red Bank’s borough government is not yet ready to pull the plug on a donated Tesla sedan, even though keeping the vehicle charged up has been a challenge, interim Business Administrator Darren McConnell tells redbankgreen.
The matter came up at the council’s April 13 workshop session, when Councilwoman Angela Mirandi asked McConnell if the borough had looked into buying electric vehicles for the police department.
Gasoline-powered police vehicles are typically replaced after about six years of near-constant usage, at which point they’ve racked up about 90,000 miles and are no longer suited for the demands of near-constant usage, said McConnell, who’s also the police chief.
The cars are then repurposed to other departments for “less strenuous use… for the rest of their relatively short usable life,” he said.
But replacing them with EVs isn’t yet on the horizon, because the borough doesn’t have the infrastructure to keep them charged, McConnell said.
The town is “testing out” the 2013 Model S Tesla, which as reported by redbankgreen in December, was donated by Chestnut Street residents Nancy Facey-Blackwood, who chairs both the Environmental Commission and Charter Study Commission, and her husband, Phil Blackwood.
“But even for administrative use, charging it has been an issue,” McConnell said. “To try to use it 24/7 [in patrol work], we would need the infrastructure of superchargers in our municipal lot dedicated for our use.”
The town has been using the two EV charging stations located alongside borough hall on Monmouth Street for public use to recharge the car, McConnell said.
Councilwoman Kate Triggiano noted that New Jersey provides grants for to pay for municipal fleet chargers. “There most certainly are options out there that would support that,” she said.
McConnell said he would discuss it with Millennium Strategies, the borough’s contract grant writer.
Meanwhile, charging the fire-engine red Tesla “is very difficult,” McConnell told the council.
Recharges “take a very long time on a standard charger,” he said, “and it’s not feasible to charge them for 12 hours after using them for four hours.”
Afterward, in response to questions by redbankgreen, McConnell said this via email:
It has so far only been used in the PD as an admin vehicle. The challenge thus far has been that we do not have a charger at the municipal building dedicated for our vehicles, since we only have one such vehicle and it is new to us. We were using the public one out front but it does take over 12 hours to charge it from a low battery to 80%. Obviously the length of time that charge lasts is dependent upon the distance driven, but it does get over 200 miles on a basically full charge. As an alternative we can plug it into a standard outlet, but that takes even longer to charge than the charging station. We are also trying to be considerate and not occupy the charging station that is meant for the public.
We have no intention of “pulling the plug” on the idea of the car. It is a great way to test out how it works and we will be rotating it through other borough departments as the PD is certainly unique from other areas of the town. So far the most valuable lesson learned has been that to implement these vehicles in the Borough we would need to have the charging infrastructure in place and likely rapid chargers, at least if they were to be used in the police department as we cannot have a patrol vehicle off-line for very long, they are typically used for around 36 hours out of every 48 hour period, on average.
The Blackwoods donated the vehicle, with 145,000 miles on the odometer and a battery replaced at 100,000 miles, “for the purpose of helping Red Bank evaluate the feasibility of adopting electric vehicles in the future” and to “help create momentum toward climate action,” Phil Blackwood said at the time.
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