The city is experimenting with the use of the electric cars to check parking compliance, starting with three 2012 Nissan Leaf vehicles leased from Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
The program will cost $39,600 for one year and is funded through the city's vehicle capital replacement program.
Early reports have shown the vehicles are reducing emissions of carbon dioxide gas by 21 pounds per vehicle each day, or more than 11 tons per year.
The new electric cars join a city fleet of more than 1,700 vehicles, 329 of which run on alternative fuels, according to Environmental Services Bureau Manager Jim Kuhl.
The "green" fleet includes a range of vehicles, from liquefied natural gas-consuming street sweepers and dump trucks to propane forklifts, compressed natural gas sedans and low-speed electric vehicles such as golf carts.
"It's a lot cleaner environment both for the employees and the neighborhoods," Kuhl said. "We're not emitting diesel particulates in the alleys and on the streets."
Most parking enforcement officers work a 10-hour day, Kuhl said, driving between 35 and 40 miles a day in more urban parts of Long Beach, or 70 to 80 miles in less dense areas such as East Long Beach. A 2012 Nissan Leaf has a 99-mile equivalent per gallon combined fuel economy, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
A Consumer Reports test conducted last year found that the Nissan Leaf's running costs are about 3.5 cents a mile, based on the average national electricity rate. The cost of a hybrid gas-electric Toyota Prius was 8.6 cents a mile.
Kuhl said parking enforcement in Long Beach is conducted by 24 vehicles that follow street sweepers. Twenty additional vehicles patrol the streets to ensure other parking laws are observed.
An audit of parking ticket collections released earlier this year showed that about 345,000 citations are issued annually.
Revenue from tickets totaled $13 million in 2011.
If the Nissan Leaf pilot project is deemed successful, use of the cars could be expanded into code enforcement, health inspections and other field operations, according to Kuhl.
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