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CARMEL, Ind.–Carmel is buying new hybrid police cars they believe will save the city almost $400,000 per year. They are buying 17 Ford Interceptors, this year, and plan to replace their entire fleet of 130 patrol cars within five years.

“The thousands of dollars we save taxpayers by using this new technology will allow our police department to invest in more proactive measures to keep our crime rate among the lowest in the nation,” said Mayor Jim Bainard.

“Over the years, the Carmel Police Department has really looked into technology, cost savings [and&#93 making the officers’ jobs more efficient,” said police Lt. Joe Bickel. “I think we’re leaders and we set an example for other cities.”

Each hybrid SUV will consume an estimated 343 fewer gallons of gas each year while driving and 933 fewer gallons of gas while idling, according to city calculations cited by Bickel.

“It sort of surprised me that they were planning to save that much,” said auto blogger Phillip Reed, talking to WISH TV after reviewing the figures released by the city of Carmel. “But it’s also important to understand the figures can be manipulated many different ways. And they’re basing it on the price of gas, which is extremely volatile.”

The savings could be significant after five to 10 years if gas prices steadily increase, he said.

Reed said he believes when police departments or cities or businesses buy hybrid cars, it makes the constituents feel like they are being modern. Carmel insists they will save money and the new police fleet is not just about PR.

WISH TV’s Julia Deng contributed to this story