Electric Utility Vehicles Can Help Meet Transportation, Grounds Needs

By Loren Snyder  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Changing Transportation Needs Make Car Sharing, EV Charging Stations ConsiderationsPt. 2: Car Sharing Can Help Save Money On Fleet Maintenance CostsPt. 3: EV Charging Stations Beginning to Show Up More On CampusPt. 4: This Page

The choice to use electric vehicles isn't solely the province of employee cars. Increasingly, facility owners are choosing to use electric utility vehicles for some of their organization's transportation and grounds needs.

Ignacio Guerra, vice president of parking operations, L.A. Live, says they first started using such vehicles in 2005, choosing a couple of two-seat versions.

"(The venue) is separated from the parking lots via city streets, which means we needed to have street-legal vehicles," he says.

Guerra notes that L.A. Live's first purchase proved so useful, the organization bought four-seat versions and retrofitted the two-seat models for security and patrol operations in the parking lots.

"Two of our parking garages are subterranean, and because of that, we don't want to have any additional emissions — more than we have to," says Guerra. "Having the electric vehicles as part of our fleet was the only option."

Gene Reed, director of fleet services for Virginia Tech, notes that the campus has been increasingly turning to all-electric utility vehicles for some of the light-duty operations previously handled by pick-ups and sedans.

"We're using them mostly for point-to-point runs on campus, which can be up to three miles, and we'll make several trips a day," he says.

Reed says that individual departments can choose to purchase the electric vehicles and that his staff will perform maintenance and upkeep.

"We've had a number on campus since 2011, and haven't really had that many problems," he says. "It's usual stuff: The batteries are dead, or the tires need to be replaced."

Loren Snyder, a contributing editor for Building Operating Management, is a writer who specializes in facility issues. He was formerly managing editor of Building Operating Management.

Car Sharing

There are a number of car sharing networks available, but they all have the same basic premise.

Customers who make only occasional and short-term use of a vehicle can rent cars on per-hour basis. It allows users the benefits of private ownership without the costs or maintenance concerns. Many vehicle types and sizes are available to account holders.

A typical car sharing service works like this: Car sharing is not limited to a specific time of day; users can reserve, pick up and drop off cars at any time. Reservation is done online. Pickup and return (from dedicated network parking spots) is entirely self-service. Users are members, and can open the vehicle using their membership card. Insurance coverage is limited to state minimum liability insurance (only $5,000 in some states), plus comprehensive and collision insurance. Uninsured, under-insured or personal injury protection insurance is not provided. A company fuel card is located in the car, and fuel costs are included in the rates. Typically, rental is calculated by the hour, but users can also rent by the day and minute.

— Loren Snyder

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  posted on 3/18/2013   Article Use Policy

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