All-electric cargo vans a first for Lake County Forest Preserve District

  • The Lake County Forest Preserve District has added three all-electric cargo vans and other green equipment.

    The Lake County Forest Preserve District has added three all-electric cargo vans and other green equipment.

Posted4/13/2023 5:30 AM

The Lake County Forest Preserve District has expanded its green footprint beyond passenger vehicles with the addition of three all-electric cargo vans and other equipment.

Two lithium-ion powered greens mowers -- the first electric equipment besides carts planned for use at district golf courses -- also were on the list of purchases approved Wednesday by forest commissioners.


In separate actions, the forest board approved a contract for $184,395 with Napleton Ford of Oak Lawn to replace work vans originally purchased in 2008, 2010 and 2011.

Two Toro Greenmaster eTriFlex mowers totaling $138,376 to replace 2001 models deemed beyond their useful lives were included in a larger purchase with Reinders Inc., of Sussex, Wisconsin, that also was approved.

The all-electric work vans were purchased as part of a continual evaluation of vehicle replacements in accordance with the district's Green Fleet policy.

A number of hybrid passenger cars have been in use for some time but not other types of electric-powered vehicles or equipment.

Longtime Commissioner Ann Maine noted the purchases represent "an exciting step in our continuing efforts."

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Price, availability and performance have been among the questions raised when considering those types of purchases but more and better options are emerging, district officials say.

Forest Commissioner Paul Frank and others have been pushing to reduce emissions and reduce the district's carbon footprint when considering replacing vehicles and equipment.

"We want to help those sorts of investments in green technology grow," he said after the meeting.

"Let's be part of the marketplace that's driving the change. I'm hoping other local governments will take note and follow our example," he added.

The cargo vans will be primarily based at the district's Operations and Public Safety facility near Lindenhurst. Two will be used by the carpentry crew and one by the painter crew and will be outfitted for those specific needs.


Both will be charged overnight with stations to be installed and have a projected range of 108 miles, enough to make it through an entire workday of traveling to various forest preserves, according to the district.

One of the greens mowers is targeted for use at Countryside golf course near Mundelein and the other at Brae Loch near Grayslake.

Eighty electric carts have been in use at the district's ThunderHawk Golf Club in Beach Park since it opened in 1999 but the greens mowers will be the first electric-powered equipment.

Vendors have paused on hybrid products and are transitioning to all-electric, said Alex Eichman, the district's chief of golf operations.

Greens mowers are the first of that type of equipment made available and proven to work, he added.

"Replacing all of them would be amazingly expensive," Eichman said. "We want to dip our toe in the water first."

Prices of an electric mower can be several thousand more than gas-powered mowers, Eichman said.

"We have to weigh the environmental friendliness of a piece of equipment at the same (time) we consider the cost," Eichman said.

Converting 146 carts at the district's Countryside Golf Club from gas to electric also tentatively is planned but not imminent as a facility to store and charge them needs to be designed and built.

Getting the mowers in a timely manner could be another matter. Eichman said other pieces of equipment and 18,000 range balls he ordered in January 2022 aren't scheduled to arrive for six more weeks.

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