MOREHEAD, KYMorehead State University (MSU) has been testing electric vehicles on campus since last fall. The university purchased five Chrysler Global Electric Motorcars to benefit its efforts for "going green," according to The Trail Blazer campus newspaper.

Mike Walters, MSU vice president of Administration and Fiscal Services, said the idea for the electric vehicles surfaced about a year ago, when some MSU facility staff attended a conference at the University of Texas and saw a number of the vehicles being used on campus. He said the electric vehicles are a part of MSU's green effort on campus.

"We want to try to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and have been looking at ways to do that over the last several months," Walters said.

The 25-mph vehicles run on 8V batteries and can operate 10 to 12 hours on one full charge, according to Maintenance Supervisor Ed Beam.  

Smaller than a normal size maintenance truck, Beam said they're very efficient because fuel doesn't have to be bought every day. The vehicles are used in MSU's landscaping and grounds operations, and building maintenance operations. "We use them to get across campus and back and forth from building to building for maintenance calls."

Each GEM has all the basic equipment and operations of a regular size maintenance truck: tool boxes, headlights, turn signals, seatbelts, and license plate.

"They are fully licensed vehicles and they're legal to operate on any street that has a 45 mph or less speed limit," Walters said.

Walters said, along with the electric vehicle project, the university also is looking ways way to cut back on the use of gasoline.

"We also had a project underway at that time where we were looking at our gasoline power vehicle fleet and had a goal of reducing that," Walters said. "We've been able to reduce the gasoline power vehicle fleet by about 15 percent since last fall."

Walters said the electric vehicles have had a positive response so far. "We think eventually we can replace most all of the smaller service vehicles with these electric vehicles."