It is big, orange and black and it hums as it winds its way around Fort Carson carrying its quarry. Far from frightening, the Directorate of Public Works Recycle Program's new electric vehicle makes an eye and ear-catching first impression.

The Recycle Program EV, one of world's largest plug-in battery-electric powered trucks, arrived here in late 2011 for a performance demonstration period courtesy of the Army's Tank Automotive and Development Command. Three other EVs are now in use by the Directorate of Logistics and the DOL Transportation Motor Pool.

The all-electric vehicles, which can haul more than eight tons of cargo, include a fully-loaded weapons reset work truck, two stake bed trucks and a refrigerator box truck. An electric TMP bus is slated to arrive this year.

According to the vehicle specifications, the trucks can reach a top speed of 50 mph and travel up to 100 miles on a single charge. The EV's lithium-ion battery takes 6 to 8 hours to fully charge and has an estimated 15-year lifecycle.

A 100-mile trip in one of the EVs would cost approximately $12 as opposed to an average of $40 for a diesel-fueled vehicle to make the same trip, including operation costs, fuel, maintenance and repairs per mile -- a 70 percent savings for the Army, calculated Vince Guthrie, DPW utility program manager.

An added benefit to electric-powered locomotion is the lack of air pollution from emissions.

Ryan Sullivan, recycle operator for the DPW, is the primary driver of the Recycle Program's EV. Three days a week, Sullivan rides the vehicle for five hours traveling around the installation to pick up commodities at customer locations. He logged approximately 300 miles in the first three weeks of use.

"For what we do on post, it works out excellent," said Sullivan. "For stop and go, it is ideal."

At the end of the day, he plugs the EV into the charging station. "I can make it through my whole day with my charge," he said.

The "fuel gauge" in the EV allows Sullivan to keep track of the battery charge, battery temperature and the amps of electricity in use.

A few things required getting used to in the orange and black truck, one being the slight delay in starting the vehicle due to the computer system turning on, which lasts less than a minute. The other was the silence of the vehicle while it runs.

"I looked for an app for a motor sound," said Sullivan of his adjustment from usually hearing a standard engine motor sound.

In Fort Carson push's to become more energy independent, cut costs and achieve Net Zero energy, it continues to test new technologies such as the EVs to see how they fit with the needs of the installation and promote broader implementation.

"Fort Carson's early adoption of electric vehicles and other sustainable technologies is helping to make them better and more affordable for everyone," said Guthrie.

Organizations interested in using the EV stake bed truck or box truck, can contact the TMP at 526-6939. Civilians with a government license and military members can use the vehicles after receiving a brief orientation training.

Cutline: Ryan Sullivan, Directorate of Public Works recycle operator, charges the Recycle Program's new all-electric truck.