It may have been the only auto showroom in city history to feature shirtless roller skaters, tip-seeking jugglers and an on-site churro vendor.
But for three hours Tuesday night, curious guests and, more often, mystified passers-by along the concourse in front of the Central Park band shell had a chance to take a close look at part of the city’s growing fleet of electric cars.
The display, which was followed by a free screening of the coming documentary “Revenge of the Electric Car,” was intended to inform residents of their options concerning electric cars, city officials said.
“There’s a latent demand for this, particularly when people are educated about the benefits of electric vehicles,” said Adam Freed, the deputy director of the Bloomberg administration’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability.
Earlier in the day, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg had announced the addition of 70 electric vehicles to the municipal fleet, raising the total to 430 — more than any city in the country, according to the mayor’s office. Among the recipients of the new vehicles: the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Sanitation, and the Fire and Police Departments.
The city also plans to introduce six fully electric Nissan Leafs into the yellow-cab population as part of a pilot program next year. If the trial is successful, the city’s “taxi of tomorrow,” a Nissan NV200, may be manufactured as an all-electric vehicle.
Prototypes of each new municipal vehicle — fully electric cargo vans and utility trucks, as well as the Chevrolet Volt hybrid, which switches to gas once the battery runs out — lined the band shell’s concourse Tuesday night, with representatives on hand to answer questions about each.
Circling the hybrid, Michael Keister, 27, an Army veteran of the war in Afghanistan, said his experience overseas had compelled him to place a premium on energy independence.
“I was in the Middle East fighting over this stuff,” he said, running his hand along the hood. “People are enslaved by oil.”
Though he is concerned about clean energy, Mr. Leal said he owned a typical gas-using car because, he said, the current plug-in model amounted to a lateral move: exploiting one energy source instead of another.
“I would buy one if they actually used renewable power instead of plugging in,” Mr. Leal said. “But the electricity just comes from coal.”
The city hopes to transition, eventually, to solar-powered charging, according to Jonathan P. Ells, deputy director of operations with the Parks Department. In the meantime, he said, electric municipal vehicles do, at least, “remove emissions from the city setting.”
The city lists about 30 public charging locations as a link from its dedicated Drive Electric Web site. Many are local garages, and the cost of plugging in is determined by each station, city officials said. Municipal vehicles have their own charging stations.
Pat Hackbarth, 59, a professional French horn player, said the uncertain economics of electric vehicles had left her reluctant to purchase one in the city.
“It works better for fleets when they have their own charging station,” she said, laughing. “They’re going to have to go a little farther before I seriously consider getting one.”