Electric Cars Provide Eco-friendly Options

University of Washington-Seattle campus employes EVs from Segways to Bombardier NEVs to Prius gasoline-electric hybrids

Published: 26-Jan-2004

Fields, northeast maintenance zone manager for the UW, gets some strange looks when he drives around campus. Not only is his car smaller than a golf cart and equipped with doors that zip shut, but it also runs solely on battery power.

The UW Motor Pool, which rents vehicles to faculty, staff and students for school purposes, purchased the electric Bombarder in partnership with the WSU Energy Office for approximately $6,000 each.

"We would buy more [of the cars] but the problem with the Bombardier is that they don't make them anymore," said Motor Pool Manager David Carr.

Motor Pool has tried out similar electric vehicles, such as the Chrysler Gem, but found they didn't perform as well in bad weather or on various inclines.

"Unless they make some improvements in the Gem, we probably won't get them," said Carr.

Motor Pool has purchased five Taylor-Dunn Electric trucks, six Toyota Prius cars and one Segway Human Transporter, and aims to purchase more environmentally friendly vehicles.

Fields drives one of two Bombardier electrical neighborhood cars on campus. He uses the car to go between buildings, where he checks in with his maintenance crew, which maintains all the buildings on north campus.

"The Bombardiers are really nice in that they can be maneuvered along down pathways where regular vehicles can't go," said Fields.

The car runs 30 miles on a single eight-hour charge. Because it doesn't use gasoline and produces no emissions, it is also environmentally friendly.

"The University is very involved in energy conservation, water conservation, recycling and those types of sustainable activities and, in my opinion, the use of electric vehicles contributes to that goal," said Fields.

The Bombardiers are designed to be used on low-volume and low-speed roads. The car has a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour and accelerates from zero to 20 in six seconds.

The Bombardier is street legal and equipped with a windshield wiper, headlights, seatbelts and a 12-volt heater.

"I have driven it quite frequently around the U-District. I get lots of people looking at it and smiling, I guess because it's unique to see a small vehicle like that on the roads. A lot of people smile and point at it; it's really a novelty," said Fields.



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