Utility Vehicles: Powerful and Green

lead-acid batteries, emissions, noise   March 6, 2008

This is Chris Matt, Associate Editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today’s tip is balancing utility vehicles’ performance and environmental footprint.

As green awareness continues to surge in commercial and institutional facilities, grounds managers face an important question when specifying utility vehicles: How does someone balance utility vehicles’ appealing characteristics — power, towing and hauling capacity, and speed — with environmental friendliness?

To answer that question, grounds managers must consider the following:

Emissions and Noise. An electric utility vehicle provides many of the green benefits managers are looking for. But, through the introduction of alternative fuels and the installation of catalytic converters, manufacturers also are addressing emissions and noise concerns in their gas-powered utility vehicles.

Power vs. Range. Understanding the difference is critical for grounds managers. Power refers to hauling and towing capacity and the ability to climb hills, while range refers to the length of time a vehicle’s power lasts. Manufacturers say electric vehicles possess similar power to the gas, but the battery might not last an entire shift.

Finally, Battery Technology. To address the range challenge for electric utility vehicles, manufacturers are monitoring the newest battery technologies. Some say nickel-metal hydride and lithium are the two battery types manufacturers will look at closely as a substitute for the lead-acid technology in many vehicles. However, the cost differential is significant, and that will play a role in the decision-making process.


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