EDISON, N.J. – City of Edison Mayor Jun Choi now drives a hybrid Ford Escape — one of the 26 fuel-efficient vehicles the township bought for its fleet.

The vehicles will save Edison $70,000 in fuel costs annually, lowering the overall gasoline budget line by seven percent, according to the Star-Ledger.

Officials said the hybrids will be used throughout the township, including by workers in the code enforcement division, the fire department, and the community development block grant program. The new vehicles include the Escapes, which have a sticker price of $25,357, and the $20,349 Toyota Prius.

The township saved more than $100,000 on the purchases by obtaining rebates from the state Board of Public Utilities and subsidies from Middlesex County, which encourages towns to use hybrids.

The city is also exploring other ways to conserve energy by possibly installing solar panels.

As more models of hybrids become available, it is realistic to expect Edison could convert half of its 435-vehicle fleet.

Four hybrid Honda Civics are also on order for the police department, and there are plans in the 2009 capital budget to buy 26 more hybrids.