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Oak Bay councillors jolted by hybrid vehicle costs

Replacing trucks with greener models would cost tens of thousands more

Oak Bay council is reluctant to replace two aging gas-powered pickups with similar trucks.

But the cost of going green stopped them in their tracks.

Committed to cleaner air and protecting the environment, councillors told staff at Monday’s council meeting that they would prefer hybrid-electric replacements for the gas-powered vehicles.

When told hybrids would cost an extra $50,000 for the two trucks, council asked staff to find out whether spending the extra money today would be economically and environmentally worthwhile over the life of the new vehicles.

Councillors want to compare the fuel cost savings with the price of eventually having to replace expensive hybrid batteries. That, and to get a sense of what the environmental impact would be of either choice.

The issue of opting for hybrid vehicles came up after council was asked to approve funding to replace several other pieces of old equipment – in addition to the 1994 and 1995 pickups that would cost $56,000 to replace with two new gasoline models.

However, when it came to other vehicles on the shopping list, council’s enthusiasm for hybrids froze. Requests include a new boom truck (gas-powered cost $168,000) to replace a 1998 model, a deck truck ($95,000) to replace a 1990 unit, and a replacement for a 1990 dumping pickup ($55,000).

They were told it would cost an extra $90,000 for a hybrid boom truck alone – such vehicles are not yet commonplace.

“We don’t want to be on the bleeding edge” of testing hybrid heavy trucks, Jensen said. “We don’t want to be guinea pigs.”