The campus of Washington State University (WSU) recently purchased three electric vehicles for use at its Pullman campus near the state’s eastern boarder. All three of the vehicles are Global Electric Motorcars (GEM), a maker of small, low-speed all-electric vehicles. Once a subsidiary of Chrysler, the company was purchased by Polaris Industries not too long ago.
Last year, Pike Research predicted the small EV market would grow, and the adoption of the GEM vehicles as part of a testing phrase that could potentially become a larger fleet at WSU suggests the analysis could be correct, if other campus across the nation decide to go green.
The three electric vehicles at WSU include a four-seat model ($19,000) and two six-seat units ($23,000 apiece). The cars support Washington Gov. Chris Gregorie’s mandate that state entities start to reduce their carbon footprint through fuel consumption and lower emissions.
The university says the units will be used on campus only, with one dedicated for campus tours and the others for general grounds use. The top speed of the vehicles is only 25 mph, and the limitation to the college’s grounds is probably for the best, as some have noted legitimate safety concerns of smaller EVs on the road.
Having personally driven a GEM often through the downtown streets of Portland, Ore., delivering pizzas during rush hour, I can comfortably say that the models will probably work quite well for WSU, but that they aren’t the best-suited vehicles for negotiating traffic on major roads or highways.
Here’s a video of Dennis Rovetto, WSU’s director of plant services and waste management, talking about the new vehicles to the WSU newspaper: