County gets behind green cars |

County gets behind green cars

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk County Commissioner Bill Wallace in his new Honda hybrid.

SUMMIT COUNTY – Commissioner Bill Wallace loves his gasoline- and electric-powered car so much that he’s convinced the county government to start buying them. Wallace drives a 2003 Honda Civic hybrid, which he bought in July 2003. He started suggesting hybrids for the county at the beginning of 2004.”I waited until I’d driven it during a winter before I really started pushing it for the county,” Wallace said. Assistant county manager Thad Noll said the Summit Stage bought a Ford Escape hybrid that it will receive in May. The Escape is the first vehicle to combine an SUV’s capability with hybrid technology.

“Transit’s a good place for the first one, because eventually we’d like to get hybrid buses,” Noll said. “If that works well, we’re trying to go hybrid everything eventually.”The new hybrid vehicle will save the county on cost, emissions and fuel consumption.Wallace said the hybrids are a good idea for the county, because the car gets great mileage in town. “The Cherokees (the county has) get 15 to 20 (miles per gallon) right now,” Wallace said. “If I don’t get at least 40 (miles per gallon) in my hybrid, I’m irritated.”

In town, Wallace’s car gets 43 to 45 miles per gallon. On a trip to Denver, it generally gets 40 to 41. Wallace said his car gets worse mileage on the highway, because the batteries are charging and the gasoline engine is running. If the batteries, which sit behind the rear seats, could hold more charge, then the matter would be resolved.Wallace said the Civic’s technology works in an opposite manner to that of the Toyota Prius hybrid. The Civic runs on gas, and then when it needs a boost, the batteries kick in.The gauges on the car’s dashboard monitor whether the vehicle is running on gas or batteries, whether the batteries are charging and how many miles per gallon the car is getting at any given moment.

“I watch it all the time,” Wallace said, referring to the constantly changing lights on the dash. Wallace added that he has to pick his moments when he can look down at the dashboard.The Honda Civic hybrid has a base price of $20,950, which is comparable to that of the Toyota Prius at $20,875. The base price of the Ford Escape front-wheel drive is $26,970 and four-wheel drive is $28,595.Jennifer Huffman can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 248, or at

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