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Town officials in the southeastern Massachusetts community of Dartmouth will be rolling in style — in BMWs. But it’s not because the power has gone to their heads or because the town has hit it rich.

The officials say that, after hearing pitches in July from three local car dealerships on electric vehicle deals, they determined that the most cost-effective, environmentally friendly car for them would be the 2014 BMW i3.

The town is leasing the electric cars, which generally sell for about $39,435. BMW and Nissan were the only two companies that offered to lease electric cars to the town.

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By leasing the BMWs, Dartmouth qualifies for a federal incentive program, which along with state assistance could knock the price per car down to about $800 per year, town officials said.

Months ago, when Dartmouth Town Administrator David Cressman began the yearly process of replacing outdated town vehicles, he decided it was time to go electric.

“Dartmouth has an exemplary record ... almost a decade now of focusing on sustainability,” he said. “We’re always out there looking for programs that provide an advantage for the town in terms of saving energy or looking at renewable energy or conserving it.”

Three BMWs arrived in town within the past few days. Two were given to the Department of Public Works, and one was given to the Conservation Commission. Cressman said they planned to order an additional three by the end of August, to be used by the police, Building Department, and Council on Aging.

Evan Melillo, an administrative analyst who works with Cressman, looked for electric car options from a range of companies, he said.

Ultimately, two Nissan dealerships and BMW Gallery of Norwood were the only companies offering to lease the town their cars. The BMW dealer won the town’s business.

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Melillo said Dartmouth town officials signed a fleet deal with the BMW dealership, allowing them to lease the vehicles for a reduced price.

The town will receive a tax credit from the federal government, which will offset the cost of the three-year lease, Melillo said.

Dartmouth is also one of several cities and towns in Massachusetts taking part in the state’s Electric Vehicle Incentive Program, which will provide the town with subsidies for the electric cars and the three charging stations to be built at the town hall, water department, and public works administration building.

City officials say they’ll be saving money, too, by operating the more efficient vehicles. They expect them to cost less than half as much to operate as a 2006 Honda CR-V currently used by the town’s health department, for example.

“Even though Dartmouth is very sustainable, we also have a budget we need to keep,” Melillo said. “We hope to promote electric vehicle usage.”


Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.