Unveiled in August, the vehicle runs for eight hours on a two-hour charge from a 240-volt outlet. The batteries are expected to last five years, the city said, and maintenance is required only for brakes, rotors and tires.

“We're a small department in a small town. To have something like this is pretty exciting,” Acting Police Chief Ed McSheffrey told GovPro.com. “It's an amazing vehicle. You can barely hear it run.”

According to city officials, the electric police cruiser runs like a “slot car,” as there's no lag when the driver presses the accelerator.

“The speeds are comparable to a gasoline vehicle—if not faster,” McSheffrey said. “So we're looking forward to experimenting with it.”

For the time being, McSheffrey noted that the electric police cruiser is on “limited duty” to allow the company that designed it—Coherent Systems International Corp.—to monitor its performance.

“It's not going to be the first car on the road,” McSheffrey said. “It's in a testing phase.”

Idea first was pitched in 2005

In 2005, a friend of the police department approached now-retired Police Chief Steve Cooper with the idea of donating a city police vehicle as an electric prototype. With Connellsville City Council's blessing, the police department donated a 2000 Chevy Impala to Coherent Systems International, based in Doylestown, Pa.

The company removed the Impala's combustion engine to convert the vehicle to all-electric operation. The city of Connellsville unveiled the electric police cruiser in an Aug. 23 press conference.

“The ride was so smooth, with an odd feeling as the car quickly accelerated without the noise from the engine,” Councilman David McIntire said after riding in the electric police car during its unveiling.

The all-electric vehicle has some limitations. McSheffrey noted that the cruiser cannot operate in heavy rain or standing water, because water could damage its electrical components.

Still, the electric car's potential benefits could outweigh its drawbacks. Normally, the city spends about $3 to $5 per day to operate a traditional gasoline-powered cruiser. The expected cost to operate the all-electric prototype is about 35 cents per day.

“With the price of gasoline right now, it just kills a small town like us,” McSheffrey said.