U security utilizes hybrid cars

By By Arthur Raymond

By Arthur Raymond

U campus security is ahead of other state agencies when it comes to hybrid car use.

U Department of Public Safety purchased its first hybrid vehicle, a Toyota Prius, in 2004. Since then, two more have been added and now comprise three of the four patrol vehicles used by the department.

“The Prius is small enough to get around all the places we need to go on campus, but large enough to accommodate passengers when we need to,” said corporal Gabriel Jacquez.

Jacquez said that in addition to its practical dimensions, the vehicles also represent a significant saving in fuel-cost. He noted that during a typical shift, a patrol officer puts about 100 miles on their vehicle.

The Prius uses hybrid technology common to most fuel/electric vehicles. A battery-powered electric motor aids a smaller, more fuel-efficient combustion engine.

The electric motor engages during high-speeds and acceleration, supplementing the gas engine. At low speeds, the electric motor can power the vehicle independently.

The battery that powers the electric motor is recharged via “regenerative braking,” a technology that converts the kinetic energy of braking into electrical energy stored by the battery.

Additional fuel savings are obtained via an automatic engine shutoff that minimizes wasted fuel usage during idling.

According to a recent article in Forbes magazine, the Prius is among the most fuel-efficient of all the hybrids available for sale in the United States. The Honda Insight is the only car that beats the Prius’ 46 miles per gallon fuel economy.

The U’s use of hybrids is ahead of the recent explosion in hybrid interest. Sales figures for hybrids in the United States numbered in the thousands in 2000, the first year they were widely available and have expanded dramatically since then. Toyota alone reported more than 300,000 hybrids sold in the United States last year, according to Menlove Toyota in Salt Lake City.

The Utah State Tax Commission figures for 2006 showed that 2,287 hybrids were registered in Utah. The total number of vehicles registered was 1.8 million.

Utah state government only recently mandated the use of fuel-efficient vehicles last spring. Salt Lake City and county governments have been utilizing hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles for several years.

Salt Lake City owners of hybrid vehicles have an added incentive to the obvious benefits of fuel efficiency when purchasing a hybrid. The city began offering free downtown parking to “green” vehicles in 2006. Owners of hybrids, alternative fuel vehicles and selected “super clean” cars can obtain a free sticker authorizing no-fee parking. Additional information on the green car sticker, and a list of vehicles that qualify can be found by clicking on the parking link at www.slc.gov.

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