The town of Kennebunkport has agreed to lease two Hyundai Kona EV cars. One will be used by the Public Health Department while the second will be used by the town’s planning and codes enforcement personnel. Hyundai USA courtesy photo

KENNEBUNKPORT – With rebates from both the vehicle manufacturer and Efficiency Maine, Kennebunkport will take delivery of two electric vehicles with zero monthly payment leases.

Town Manager Laurie Smith told selectmen that staff had been researching the suitability of electric and hybrid cars for municipal operations as part of the town’s climate change goals.

She said she had been contacted by Rowe Ford of Westbrook, making the town aware of the offer from Hyundai on its Kona EV model.

Together, rebates by Hyundai and Efficiency Maine total $25,250 per vehicle, Smith told selectmen on Thursday, Feb. 11. The result is a no-cost lease for up to 10,000 miles annually, for three years.

There is no obligation to purchase the vehicles once the three-year period has expired, she said.

Five departments expressed interest in leasing a total of three vehicles: public health, a shared arrangement between the wastewater department and parks and rec, and a shared arrangement for planning and codes.

Those who work with Kennebunkport Public Health use their own vehicles and are reimbursed for mileage by the town, which amounts to about $5,000 annually, said Smith. “So, in emissions and cost, it would make a lot of sense,” she said.

“I think Public Health does need a vehicle,” said selectmen board chair Allen Daggett.

“I also agree, if we’re paying $5,000,” said selectman Ed Hutchins.

“Codes could probably use one too,” said selectman Patrick Briggs.

“I’m good with that,” said Hutchins.

Selectman Sheila Matthews-Bull wondered what the reaction would be if after the three-year lease expired, the town said to employees “that’s it, back to your own cars.”

“I think we have to think about it,” said Matthews-Bull.

They agreed that a Level 2 charger, which charges the vehicle in 3 to 10 hours, would be required. According to Smith, chargers are $2,500, with a $500 Efficiency Maine rebate on the first, and $250 rebate on the second. Vehicles operate for 250 miles when fully charged.

“It’s an interesting idea,” said Briggs of the proposed vehicle purchase. “There’s no risk, so why not?”

There was a question of the cost, if the 10,000-mile annual allotment was exceeded.

Smith said a 15,000-mile-a-year lease would cost $39 a month for 36 months, but an analysis showed that the usage would likely be less than 10,000 miles.

The vote for the two vehicles leases and the chargers was unanimous.

The cost of electricity for the vehicles is estimated at $500 annually.

According to the online Green Car Reports magazine, police forces in Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom currently use Kona Electric patrol cars, and they’re being tested in the Netherlands. In a May 2020 story, Hyundai reportedly told Green Car Report that Dutch police officers have found the Kona Electric to be a great surveillance car, since suspects can’t hear it coming.

Comments are not available on this story.