The Switch to Electric
Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions by Economic Sector in the United States, responsible for up to 28% of total emissions.1 The University owns and operates a fleet of vehicles used to transport materials around campus, monitor campus safety and respond to emergencies, and transport faculty, staff, and students locally and regionally for university business. To further reduce our emissions while still upholding vital operational needs, Notre Dame is actively implementing an electrification plan for university-owned vehicles.
EVs Currently on Campus
Sustainability and Transportation Services have collaborated for the last year and a half to address the changing landscape of transportation on campus and bring electric vehicles (EVs) to the University’s operational fleet. This partnership has resulted in electric vehicle adoption within the motor pool and Parking Services thus far. “As a Sustainability Team, we collaborate alongside our operational partners to identify strategic sustainability opportunities and then work together toward a common goal,” says Geory Kurtzhals, Sr. Director, Sustainability. “Our collaboration with Transportation Services represents an essential component of Notre Dame’s decarbonization journey.”
Around campus, you will find the new Ford Lightning sporting the Parking Services logo. "The Lightning handles our tough jobs on a daily basis. We're thrilled with its performance, specifically throughout the colder months, and eager to continue testing its limits," says Katie Arnold, Parking & Credentialing Services Manager.
In Transportation Services, four new EVs have been added to the motor pool, which includes: the 2024 Chevy Blazer, the 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6, the 2023 Nissan Ariya, and the 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E. These vehicles are now available to rent for University-related business. Electric golf carts are also available for inter-campus commutes. Transportation Services Manager, Cory Thompson, says, “The Transportation Services team is 100% engaged in transitioning to EVs on Campus. We have done a lot of research on owning and maintaining an EV, such as attending car shows focusing on electric vehicles. Motor Pool staff has started introducing EV fleet as an option for a rental vehicle. Local dealerships have offered a lot of insight on the future of EVs.”
EV Performance and Reliability
EVs are quickly becoming a viable option for everyday driving purposes. As with any new and emerging technology, there are challenges to overcome. Two commonly cited challenges are operating in cold temperatures and range anxiety. Transportation Services Manager, Cory Thompson reports that, “When talking about EVs to individuals around campus, I always get this common question: How does an EV perform in the cold weather? I respond with, “just as good as a vehicle with an ICE [internal combustion engine] engine.” EVs should be kept plugged in as much as possible in cold weather. Each EV has a battery warmer that keeps the batteries warm when plugged in. If the EV is not plugged in, it will still start and perform. The only difference you may see is that the battery may drain a little quicker. We have had our electric vehicles sit out in the cold weather without being hooked up to the charger and have had no issues.”
Charge anxiety is a common concern for folks who are interested in trying out an electric vehicle, but feel they may not have the capability of easily accessing a charger, depending on their destination. Thankfully, charging infrastructure is rapidly being developed to accommodate the growing market of EV drivers. In fact, the Michiana Area Council of Governments (MACOG) received a $4.2 million grant to develop charging stations in more rural areas of our region. And throughout the country, communities and organizations investing in EV infrastructure may see financial incentives, courtesy of the Inflation Reduction Act.
Complete fleet electrification for the University will be a gradual process, with many variables that will affect the transition. As charging infrastructure increases and University vehicles near their end of life, vehicles will be evaluated for replacement and electric vehicle options will be prioritized. “We are excited to introduce more electric vehicles to campus as this project advances,” says Brian Fremeau, Sr. Director of Operations. “And we are particularly excited that so many team members across the university will be able to actively participate in this sustainability effort knowing that their daily work in a new electric vehicle is having an impact on our carbon emissions reduction goals.”
Originally published by green.nd.edu on February 05, 2024.at