UP juices up its fleet with hybrid

By Casey Toner

At $17,600 per car, the University Department of Transportation purchased six hybrid-fuel vehicles: five company cars and one police car.

Bob Dennison Toyota in Bloomington sold NIU the Priuses at a discount rate: $3,400 below the suggested retail price of $21,000.

One fuel-efficient car, known for its electric gasoline conservation, saved NIU a few thousand dollars on purchase alone, Transportation Manager Bill Finucane said. That doesn’t include the money saved in fuel.

Finucane said the Toyota Prius averages 51 miles per gallon on the expressway and 59 miles per gallon in the city. But in use, Finucane said, the Priuses have averaged 50 miles per gallon in the expressway, and many times the manufacturer’s listed mileage is higher than its mileage in practice.

The black and white police car saved NIU about $6,000 in purchase price in comparison to the $23,600 Ford Crown Victoria police car model.

If all goes well during the three-month evaluation period, the University Police plan to replace its current line of Fords with the Toyota Prius hybrids.

“If it works out, we’d like to replace this entire police fleet with the hybrid,” Finucane said. “If the police department has its operation cost lowered, it will lower our operation cost, and overall, we will see savings.”

University Police Lt. Matt Kiederlen said the vehicle, first tested on the road about two weeks ago, regularly patrols the NIU community.

“The reality is that we have a campus around 1.5 square miles; our speed limit is 35 or 20 miles per hour in most places,” Kiederlen said. “We don’t need a large vehicle.”

The prisoner transport cage in the rear seat of the UP’s Toyota Prius fits one person. The car seats four people comfortably.