Bangor police officer Doug Smith, who serves as the full-time court officer, drives the department’s new electric car along Exchange Street on his way to the Penobscot Judicial Center on Wednesday. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

A new Bangor police car is catching notice and not just because of its small size: It is the department’s first fully electric vehicle.

The car is not a patrol car. It is primarily used by the force’s court officer, Doug Smith, who often goes back and forth between the police station and the Penobscot Judicial Center. It may also be used by the Overdose Response Team in the future, department spokesperson Sgt. Wade Betters said Wednesday.

It is one of two electric vehicles the city acquired in June, along with another used by the parks and recreation department, as part of a larger effort to reduce its carbon footprint.

As Mainers continue to worry about the effects of climate change, the department’s use of the car could be a precursor to a larger transition away from fossil fuels throughout the state. Officials also see it as an opportunity to build goodwill with city residents who are increasingly environmentally conscious.

“This allows us to show the public that we do take this seriously,” Betters said, “and that we did seize an opportunity to get a fully electric vehicle on the road.”

From left (clockwise): Bangor police officer Doug Smith, who serves as the full-time court officer, drives the department’s new electric car along Exchange Street on his way to the Penobscot Judicial Center on Wednesday; The Bangor Police Department has a new electric car, which is used as a court officer car, as part of an effort to be more environmentally friendly. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik | BDN

The car can be charged in any standard wall outlet and can usually run through its routes for a few days before being recharged, Betters said.

Both of the vehicles are costing the city practically nothing due to rebate programs from Hyundai and Efficiency Maine, public works director Aaron Huotari said Wednesday. The city acquired the vehicles from Quirk Hyundai of Bangor on Haskell Road under a multi-year lease.

“It’s kind of a no-brainer to give it a try,” Huotari said. “So, we ran with it.”

Other police departments in Maine have recently acquired electric cars, including the Thomaston and Oakland police departments. Departments across the country have made similar moves as such cars have become more affordable and are built with longer battery life.

An electric patrol car was not out of the question for the future, Betters said. Four of Bangor police’s five hybrid SUVs in use are used for patrols. However, it remains to be seen whether the electric vehicles’ batteries will be able to handle the increased battery usage required for heating during Maine’s winter.

Bangor police officer Doug Smith, who serves as the full-time court officer, gets out of the department’s new electric car at the Penobscot Judicial Center on Exchange Street on Wednesday. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The City Council has also approved acquiring a third electric car, a utility vehicle that would be used by public works’ downtown custodian, Huotari said.

While the city has the ability to purchase the cars at the end of their lease, it is currently in the evaluation phase, Huotari said. Besides how they will function in winter, the city also wants to see how strong the batteries stay over time.

“There’s still a lot to be learned,” Huotari said. “We’re not there yet.”