WSU is attempting to reduce its carbon footprint by purchasing three vehicles called Global Electric Motor (GEM) cars for testing to pursue cleaner technology.
Dennis Rovetto, director of Plant Services at WSU, said the GEM is a multi-purpose test vehicle.
“We are testing to find out how these vehicles work here on a hilly and cold campus,” Rovetto said.
The GEM cars run entirely on a gel battery that works well in cold temperatures, according to WSU News. The vehicles have two different models, one that holds six passengers, and the other that only holds four. The six-passenger model cost WSU $23,000 per vehicle, and the four-passenger model cost more than $19,000, according to the article. The six-passenger model will be available through the school for rental for events like Alive! in the summer.
The GEM vehicles will be available for rent to any campus department with authority to rent fleet cars, Rovetto said. They are strictly for campus use and they meet all the elements required by the State Department of Motor Vehicles, he said.
The gel battery used in the GEM cars lasts between five and six years, Rovetto said. The gel battery takes around eight hours to charge when completely drained, but less than an hour if it is only around 10 percent drained, he said.
One setback revealed about the GEM cars is that although the battery does well in cold temperatures, the cars will probably not be used in the winter months, Rovetto said. Although the cars can be heated, the heat used will mostly be for the window defroster.
“Heat is limited in these vehicles,” Rovetto said. “The more the heater is used, the less the car can travel since the heat is draining the battery.”
Sophomore business major Cailan Mosely said she thought the GEM cars won’t be utilized enough to justify the expenses.
“Since these cars are not available for winter months because of lack of heating, they seem impractical for the amount of money we are spending on them,” Mosely said.
The GEM cars will benefit the WSU campus, decreasing the money spent on campus travel by providing a purely electric car for rent, Rovetto said. The cars will require less maintenance due to no fuel or oil changes and have little impact on the environment, he said.
Rovetto said he thinks these types of cars, whether purely electric or a hybrid version will be more available to the public in the future. He said there should be a market for them because people are becoming more concerned with the rising price of gas and becoming more aware of the environment.
“I think the cars are a great idea,” said Joel Demory, a junior in natural resource sciences. “I am glad to see WSU is going more green and I hope to see improvements and more of these cars in the future.”