WINSTON-SALEM, NC – The City of Winston-Salem fleet officials have been awarded a $28,800 state grant to help buy four electric vehicles that will be used by parking-meter readers downtown, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. The Winston-Salem City Council is expected to approve the purchase in the next budget.

The carts will be the first all-electric vehicles added to the city’s small but growing fleet of reduced-emissions vehicles. The fleet is one of the city’s contributions to a regional effort to fight air pollution. The grant will cover about 60 percent of the estimated $48,000 cost for the four vehicles, while the city will pay the rest. City fleet officials plan to get bids from several electric-vehicle companies and hope to have the carts on the street by August.

The carts will join a low-emissions fleet of 10 cars and trucks that run on compressed natural gas. The city started buying the natural-gas vehicles seven years ago and bought six gas/electric hybrids a year ago. The current three-wheel, gas-powered vehicles used for parking enforcement are being replaced because they are about 10 years old and require a lot of maintenance, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

The grant to help pay for the carts was offered through the N.C. Solar Center as a part of the Clean Fuel Advanced Technology project, sponsored by the N.C. Department of Transportation, the N.C. Division of Air Quality, and the N.C. State Energy Office. The purchase conforms to a formal policy adopted by the Winston-Salem City Council in April that calls for staff members to consider environmental factors when buying vehicles, rather than just taking the lowest bid.