The vehicles in Pittsburg State University’s motor pool burn thousands of gallons of gasoline each year. Recently, the university added two new vehicles to its fleet that officials hope will help reduce its gas consumption.

The vehicles in Pittsburg State University’s motor pool burn thousands of gallons of gasoline each year. Recently, the university added two new vehicles to its fleet that officials hope will help reduce its gas consumption.

This week, vehicle maintenance workers are preparing two 2012 Ford Fusion hybrids to hit the road soon after spring break.

Vehicle maintenance supervisor Kurt Kasjaka said the new hybrids are well-equipped and are five-star crash rated.

“They’re fully equipped, but that’s pretty much a given with hybrids now,” Kasjaka said."

The hybrids drive like conventional sedans except for the lack of engine noise when they are running on battery power. Most importantly, Kasjaka said, the hybrids are expected to get about 41 miles per gallon in city driving and 36 miles per gallon on the highway, number amounts that are usually reversed.

“Hybrids have gasoline and electric motors,” Kasjaka said. “They run on the electric motor in town, and on the highway it switches to gasoline, which recharges the batteries for in-town driving.” The university currently uses 2008 Chevy Impalas, which get about 33 miles per gallon.

But even with gas hovering around $3.70 a gallon, Kasjaka said, it’s unlikely that the hybrids will actually save the university money over their lifespan. That’s because their initial cost of $26,000 each is higher than that of a comparable conventional sedan.

“If you think you’re going to save enough money to pay for the car, you’re not,” Kasjaka said. “But the hybrid does cut down on the amount of gas you burn and reduces your carbon footprint and that was the reason for adding them to the fleet.”

Kasjaka, who has been with PSU for 21 years, said adding the new technology to the motor pool means learning some new things, and that excites him.

“We’re still learning about the cars,” Kasjaka said, “but Kenny (Edwards) and I like a challenge.”

Edwards, Kasjaka’s assistant, is already ahead of the curve on hybrid technology, Kasjaka said, because he already owns a hybrid. At one time, he even used a kit to convert a gas-powered car to battery power.

“He’s going to be my go-to guy on these,” Kasjaka said.

Ron Womble contributed to this report.