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Sustainability considerations have an impact on the department’s decisions when purchasing utility vehicles, including the choice of fuel type.
“Electric units have improved, but so have the diesel and gas versions, so it’s still all about right equipment for the right job,” Kovolyan says. “We have found here that our electric units actually cost us a little more to operate and have more disadvantages than our fuel vehicles. With the cost of replacement batteries, the cost of recycling the old ones, chargers being driven over, cables pulled out, and electricity prices going up, we haven’t seen any advantage.
Electric vehicles also pose some challenges for operators moving across campus among students.
“We have actually had some local residents complain they can’t hear the utility vehicle coming up behind them when walking the campus,” he says.
Propane also has attracted attention as a fuel option among users of utility vehicles, but Kovolyan has concerns about this option.
“Propane is more of a safety issue,” he says. “Having people driving around with propane tanks and filling tanks isn’t something we want to get into. We’ve talked with the local fire department about having a propane station, and that brings a whole new level of safety concerns — safety procedures and cordoned off areas for filling stations. Number one, we don’t really have the room for that, and number two, it’s not something we’re comfortable getting into and allowing that many people to have access.”
Kovolyan remains optimistic about the benefits of utility vehicles and the ability of manufacturers to meet the changing needs of their customers.
“The manufactures have been doing a great job in listening to the end users and have come up with some great features and configurations the past few years,” he says. “I think the university and municipality market has been overlooked for a while, but they have realized we are a large consumer of the product and only growing.”
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