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Posted 03/01/03, by Andrew Bailey '03
New rental vehicles win favor with College community
Sounding more like something out of the Thayer School of Engineering than Facilities Operations and Management, Dartmouth's two hybrid cars have been running cleanly and efficiently on combined electric and gas power for more than six months. Located in Dartmouth's Vox Car Office parking lot, the 2002 Toyota Prius and the 2002 Honda Civic appear on the outside like any other car on the lot. But under the hood lies the difference, a difference that will lead to a greener Dartmouth and a difference that in the future may possibly revolutionize the way all cars run.
"One of the primary reasons for buying a couple of hybrids was to show Dartmouth's support for 'green' technology," says Associate Vice President for Facilities Operations and Management John Gratiot. "Buying hybrids was one way that FO&M and our Vox office could support that vision."
Hybrid cars, which cost about $3,000 more than similar-sized gasoline-powered cars, have much lower emissions than standard cars. Plus the Prius' average gas mileage of 52 miles per gallon on the highway and 45 miles per gallon in the city helps to conserve fuel and save money in the meantime.
The Vox Car Office, located in McKenzie hall, rents cars to approved students, faculty members or staff members on College business. Renting its normal fleet of mid-sized sedans, like the Ford Taurus, for years, FO&M staff never considered buying a hybrid until looking for a new car last spring. According to FO&M Director of Fiscal and Auxiliary Services Bill Barr, once the Toyota Prius was spotted on the car dealership lot in spring 2002, the choice seemed natural.
Hybrid cars operate using a gasoline engine, an electric motor, a battery and a generator. The electric motor kicks in to power the car at certain speeds, allowing the gasoline motor to rest. While at rest the gasoline motor continually charges the electric motor, ensuring that the car never runs out of power. The Prius and the Honda Civic, which was added to the fleet in the fall of 2002, both handle like normal cars and have deceiving amounts of acceleration. The difference between the two cars, according to Barr, is that the electric motor operates at low speeds in the Prius, making it more suitable for urban driving, while the Civic draws on electric and battery power while in higher speeds, lending it to interstate driving.
Adrienne Stone, Vox Car Coordinator, says that people's overall response to the hybrid cars has been positive. "We've even had people come back from using the hybrids talking about how they wanted to buy one," Stone says. While the office made no announcement heralding the arrival of the hybrids, word of mouth has quickly spread and now the two cars are regularly requested.
To further Dartmouth's commitment to becoming a greener campus, Win Johnson, then Vice President and Treasurer, offered to pay the difference in cost between the cost of the hybrid and the conventional car from his budget. Gratiot stresses the need for everyone to help in this greening effort, saying, "by buying, or renting from Vox, hybrid vehicles, which use fewer resources and create fewer emissions, we can all help achieve our goal."
Barr says that the Vox office will continue to buy hybrid cars as it turns over its fleet. The hybrids, or any Vox car, can be reserved by calling the Vox Car Office at 646-1VOX (1869). Drivers of college owned cars must be on the list of approved drivers maintained by the Risk Management Office, available at 646-2441.
- Andrew Bailey '03
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