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University tests new electric car

Amanda Gray | Tuesday, October 12, 2010

In an effort to explore new sustainable energy options, the University added an electric car to its fleet of vehicles this semester.

The Mitsubishi iMiev, an electric car that seats four people, will be on loan from Mitsubishi Motors North America to Notre Dame this semester. Eaton Corporation is also providing three charging stations on campus, according to a Notre Dame Office of Sustainability press release.

“This is just the beginning of something good for campus,” said Erin Hafner, the Sustainability Program Manager for the Office of Sustainability. “It’s opening some doors for us to bring electric cars to campus. It really wasn’t an option before.”

This initial car is acting as a pilot test program, Hafner said. If successful, the University will look at adding electric cars to its fleet.

“We’d like to integrate these into the fleet for travel,” she said. “We’d also like to integrate these into our maintenance fleet. There’s a wide array of uses.”

The iMiev gets 100 miles to every charge, according to Mitsubishi’s website. It is also listed as a zero emissions vehicle, meaning it doesn’t emit carbon dioxide. When taking the carbon dioxide used to create electricity to charge the car into account, the iMiev still releases only 30 percent as much carbon dioxide as do its gasoline-powered mini-car counterparts.

“Through our collaboration with Notre Dame, Eaton is paving the way for the development of the infrastructure leading to the adoption and expanded use of electric vehicles,” Jerry Whitaker, president of Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Americas Region, said in the press release.

This is not the first time the University has partnered with Eaton Corporation; the corporation helped the University with Stinson-Remick Hall.

“The project will help us to further understand the potential of electric vehicles as we strive to reduce our energy consumption and carbon footprint on campus,” Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves said in the press release.

The car will be on display at public events and promotions for the Office of Sustainability, Hafner said. These promotions include football Friday afternoons at Irish Green, where the car is stationed next to a table with information about electric cars.

Different University departments will also drive the car, so students will see it around campus, Hafner said. It will have a Notre Dame-themed car design similar to the three Smart cars that the University purchased this year.