News Release

Published on Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Western Technical College received a new campus security vehicle today that is sure to turn a few heads as it is driven down the street.

As part of its commitment to creating a climate neutral campus, Western has purchased a Summit Utility Vehicle (SUV), a type of Neighborhood Electric Vehicle, or NEV.

The two-passenger vehicle looks like a golf cart with an enlarged cargo area on the back, and that’s essentially correct. The NEV does not require gasoline, but instead runs on eight six-volt batteries.

“It was time for a new fleet vehicle, and our sustainability taskforce looked into environmentally-friendly options,” said Shelley McNeely, manager of campus security at Western.

The college’s Sustainability Taskforce was established in 2007 when Western President Lee Rasch signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, a national effort to fight global warming by sharply reducing and eventually eliminating all of the college’s global warming emissions.

“This is not only good for the environment, but there will be substantial savings in the cost of running the vehicle,” said McNeely. “A typical fleet vehicle costs an average of 48 cents per mile to run, and the NEV will cost only two-and-a-half to three cents per mile.”

The vehicle will be driven by Western Security staff and contracted Per Mar officers around the La Crosse main campus and the Automotive and Diesel Technology Centers in La Crosse’s industrial park. It travels a maximum of 25 miles per hour and can only be driven within the city limits of La Crosse.

When not in use, the NEV is plugged into a standard outlet to keep the battery charged and ready to go. The only other requirement is to maintain the water levels in the batteries.

An additional benefit to purchasing the NEV is that it supports a Wisconsin manufacturer. Once ordered through Honda Motorwerks, the vehicle was assembled by Colombia ParCar Corp. in Reedsburg, Wis.

“There were so many positives associated with this vehicle that it really was an easy decision,” said McNeely. “There was a bit of a delay from the time we ordered the vehicle to when it was delivered, because there is an increased demand for NEVs. I expect that we’ll see more of these vehicles around the area in the near future.”