Electric cars have taken off in recent years despite concerns over range and cost, and the verdict is still out over whether all-electric vehicles (EVs) are the future of driving.

But a report comparing the cost savings for switching government fleet vehicles from gasoline to electric (powered largely by the coal or natural gas used by utilities) has caught the attention of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, whose administration recently signed a $1.6 million contract with a dealer in Chicago to deliver 60 EVs to the state government in the coming years.

The Southern Illinoisan reported Friday that this could be the start of a larger shift by the state to replenish up to 2,300 fleet vehicles -- cars used by various state agencies -- in the coming years with electric. The report didn’t name the dealer that won the contract.

Unlike consumer-end EVs, fleet vehicles could be better managed, with official charging stations distributed within the designated routes and range of the cars. For example, a Department of Agriculture car used to deliver mail in Chicago could use an electric car without fear of running out of juice. Government vehicles needing statewide ranges would still need to be gas-powered (or be powered by hybrid technology).

The state compared a gas-powered 2013 Ford Focus to a 2013 Mitsubishi i-MiEV and estimated cost savings of $5,833 over eight years by switching to electric. The report didn’t clarify how the costs savings are estimated, but it’s likely based in large part on the cost analysis of gasoline compared to electricity.