The Manitoba government wants to see how well low-speed electric vehicles work in the middle of a Winnipeg winter.

The province has entered a partnership with the University of Winnipeg to test one of the utility machines around the school's downtown campus.

In a news release issued Wednesday, Energy and Mines Minister Dave Chomiak said the province is interested in seeing how well the electric vehicles operate in the prairie climate.

The province also wants to learn how the vehicles, which substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, could be used by the government, he said.

Low-speed electric vehicles that have a maximum speed of 40 km/h don't meet Canadian safety standards, so testing must be done in controlled environments.

The vehicle will have limited access to local streets.

A tender is being issued for the purchase of the vehicle, the cost of which is being shared by Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation, Manitoba Innovation, Energy and Mines, Manitoba Conservation and the University of Winnipeg.

The Manitoba government is also currently involved in a plug-in hybrid vehicle project, testing five Toyota Priuses.

The plug-in hybrid operates primarily on electricity, with a small gas engine as a backup. For example, the vehicle can be plugged in at home, recharged at night and then used to commute to work the next day on electric power.

In addition, there are 110 other hybrid vehicles in the fleet of vehicles the province owns and operates, compared to just 11 in 2005. These hybrid vehicles use a gas engine assisted by an electric motor.