Moline Park and Recreation Department officials say the switch to an all-electric fleet of utility vehicles will offer a rapid payback.
Two of four 2013 John Deere TE electric Gators purchased by the parks department were delivered to Moline Public Works on Friday, with the other two expected Monday.
The electric Gators are replacing three that run on gas and one that runs on diesel. The parks department already has one electric model it bought in 2009, fleet manager J.D. Schulte said.
The new Gators cost $9,965 each, with a comparable Gator that runs on gas priced at $9,215 and one that runs on diesel at $14,096,Mr. Schulte said.
Gators are used every day in the maintenance of the parks and cemeteries.
Right now, the parks department spends about $7.60 an hour to operate the diesel Gator, a figure that includes fuel and maintenance. In contrast, the parks department spends $1.40 per hour to operate the 2009 electric Gator, Mr. Schulte said.
Gators that run on gasoline need an oil change after 50 hours of use, and the diesel model requires maintenance after 150 hours of use, he said. The electric Gators require no oil change, Mr. Schulte said.
"These new units will require minimal service," he said. "That will save us a lot of time in the shop."
Justin Goodrich, commercial sales representative for Geneseo-based dealer Holland and Sons, said Moline is the first park department he knows that has an entire fleet of electric Gators.He said there is a lot of interest in the electric utility vehicles, and many cities are looking at them and asking questions.
"I can definitely see the trend moving to electric," he said.
The electric Gators have eight batteries, with 48 volts. The Gator charges on a 12-volt cord that plugs into a regular wall outlet.
The 2013 Gators have a new feature that trickle charges the batteries as the machine is running so they don't have to be charged as often, Mr. Goodrich said. They also have an alarm that goes off if the operator gets off the vehicle and leaves it running.
The model purchased by the parks department is the only electric Gator John Deere makes, Mr. Goodrich said.
How long the Gators will run before needing a charge varies by the weight of the load, if any, being carried. Mr. Schulte said they should run all day.
At first, the parks department planned to replace the gasoline and diesel Gators with newer fuel-based models. Mr. Schulte said he and park operations and maintenance manager Rodd Schick decided it would be better to go all electric.
"We should start to see the payback the first time we use them," Mr. Schulte said, adding that the department shouldsee a great savings in maintenance and operations.
"In 2014, their costs will reduce considerably," he said.