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September 20, 1999

Faculty, staff invited to test-drive the 'car of the future'

By Francine Tyler

What do you call a car with no engine, gas tank, or tailpipe?

An EV1 (electric vehicle 1)--and you can test-drive one for the next few weeks at UCSC's Fleet Services office near the base of campus.

Any interested faculty and staff can take the car "out for a spin," whether their interest is job-related or merely personal, said Wes Scott, Fleet Services manager and director of Transportation and Parking Services. "We're just exposing people to the electric car."

Wes Scott poses beside EV1
Wes Scott poses beside the EV1 that is on loan to UCSC for the next few weeks.
Photo: Francine Tyler
The sleek, silvery-blue vehicle has been turning heads on campus since it arrived on loan from the California Environmental Protection Agency in early September. With its rear wheels partially covered by aluminum side panels, the two-seat coupe has a futuristic look.

When the vehicle is turned on (using an electronic code panel, not a key), the differences between the EV1 and an ordinary car become more apparent. Because the battery-powered car has no engine, there's no engine noise, just a quiet whir or hum as the vehicle rides the campus hills.

From the electronic wrap-around dashboard to the aluminum body panels to the battery charger above the car's front grille, everything in the EV1 has been reconstructed to reflect that it is an electric car, said Scott.

The California Environmental Protection Agency has loaned the EV1 to the campus until October 3. The vehicle has been taking a tour of city and county government agencies and educational institutions in the local area.

Electric vehicles, because they rely on electrical power rather than fossil fuels, are being touted as "vehicles of the future" that will help reduce pollution and smog in California and other states.

Automobile manufacturers are under mandate to make electric cars 10 percent of all vehicles sold in California by 2003--amounting to about 100,000 electric vehicles a year. The mandate is part of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.

The EV1 is designed and manufactured by General Motors and sold by Saturn dealerships. The car can drive 50-90 miles per charge depending on the driver's driving style and other factors. A full battery charge takes about three hours to complete.

Fleet Services currently has no plans to purchase EV1s or other electric vehicles as part of the campus's fleet, said Scott. "As nice as it would be, it's not practical for us yet in terms of the costs and benefits," he said.

However, he added, if individual units want to lease an EV1 directly from Saturn, Fleet Services would definitely support that decision.

For more information or to schedule a test-drive, call Wes Scott at (831) 459-4289.

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