VIDEO: Electric cars fizzle in Oak Harbor

The city of Oak Harbor finally rid its public works roster of two electric vehicles that caused nothing but trouble.

The eco-friendly vehicles were green, alright, but they cost the city more green than they saved.

The pair of 2005 GEM electric cars sold for $1,300 each. The city purchased the used cars from Frontier Ford of Anacortes in May 2007 for $7,000 each and spent $3,300 in troubleshooting and maintenance on the mini-motorcars.

“During the initial pilot program they worked just fine,” Sandra Place, Oak Harbor’s equipment and purchasing coordinator, said. But shortly thereafter, the little electric cars began to break down on the job, and required a tow back to the shop.

The GEMs weren’t the least expensive car on the lot. A Ford F-350 pickup truck sold for $300. The highest auto-bidder won a 1991 Ford Extended cab pickup with 21,000 miles for a sum of $6,250.

By the end of the four-hour auction, Island County received $51,232.50, the city of Oak Harbor tallied $29,375.50, North Whidbey Fire and rescue bagged $7,988, Island Transit totaled $1,428.50 and the Oak Harbor School District earned $992.50, Place said.

While many of the items carried obvious uses, others posed a myriad of possibilities.

Angela Monahan of Bow, Wash., bought a large load of wood scraps. Instead of purchasing new wood at retail price, Monahan will build a planter box with the salvaged auction wood, she said.

Fair weather drew an average number of people to the annual auction, Place said of the 350 registered bidders. The city has run the auction since before 2000, she said, adding the school district also came onboard that year. Island County, Island Transit and North Whidbey Fire and Rescue joined the city auction in 2003.

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