The City of New York will buy 50 new Chevrolet Volts as part of an effort to combat pollution and gas usage within the city.

The Volt is now the first electric car to be used by the New York Police Department. The city also plans to purchase 20 additional electric vehicles, including a battery-powered version of Ford's Transit Connect transport van. New York now has largest municipal electric fleet in the country.

The purchase of these 70 electric vehicles is part of New York's 'PlaNYC' program that aims to make the city a more sustainable and cleaner place to live.

New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg released his own statement on the purchase. "We will continue to lead by example, but we also must provide New Yorkers with tools to make environmentally friendly choices in their own lives," Bloomberg said in the press release. "When provided with the facts, people become far more likely to choose an electric vehicle. Our job is to ensure the public has the facts, ensure they can make their own decisions and ensure that if they want to drive an electric vehicle, we are providing the infrastructure needed."

Unlike most hybrid cars, the Volt primarily operates using its electric motor. When its batteries are drained, a gasoline motor works as an on-board power generator that keeps the main batteries alive. This layout has an advantage over a full electric drivetrains because the car can continue to run as long as there is gasoline in the tank. An owner can simply refill the tank if the batteries are depleted, and then recharge the car when it is most convenient.

Encouraging the use of electric cars is a high priority for New York. In May, the city announced a plan to work with Nissan in order to produce an electric van that can replace the thousands of gasoline powered taxicabs buzzing around the city every day.

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J. Mark Sternberg is an automotive journalist, car enthusiast and writer with a degree from the University of Arizona. Mark is a devoted Formula 1 fan and also enjoys boating, flying and attending the occasional track day.

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