UNM made a move towards the future this week as the University hosted its first ever electric and hybrid car show, "Ride and Drive."
The event took place last Friday afternoon at the southeast corner of Yale Boulevard and Lomas Boulevard as UNM students, staff, and local citizens took turns test driving the latest electric vehicles provided by Albuquerque dealerships.
PNM, UNM’s Physical Plant Department (PPD) and Parking and Transportation Services (PATS) sponsored the premier event.
"Ride and Drive" consisted of Albuquerque car manufacturers BMW, Ford, Nissan and Chevrolet. Representatives of each company were on hand to answer questions and help UNM affiliates test drive the very latest in electric car technology.
Lori Rene Karson, a Ford representative, passed out flash drives with brochures highlighting new Ford features included in hybrids and full electric vehicles.
Sarah Scott, a marketing representative for PATS, said the event began as a collaboration between PNM and PPD after installing electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.
Once the EV stations were installed, PNM reached out to PATS to help sponsor the Ride and Drive event, Scott said. The goal was to promote sustainability and alternative transportation, as well as raise awareness of EV charging stations on campus.
Electricity at the charging stations is free, but regular parking fees apply, Scott said. The suggestion to install the EV Charging Stations was first presented to PATS and PPD by a UNM faculty member who wanted to charge his electric car on campus.
“PATS' mission is to provide access to the University's key programs for faculty, staff, students and visitors through a variety of transportation services that consider the needs of each customer,” Scott said, "(and) to be a point of pride for our staff, University and state by utilizing industry best practices and cutting edge technology, which is why we decided to partner with PPD in installing these charge stations for our customers.”
PATS Director Barbara Morck and PPD Interim Director Gary Smith said UNM students, faculty and staff have been making a move towards renewable energy vehicles.
Smith said UNM already has 91 electric vehicles of its own, and with the help of PNM, UNM has reduced its energy consumption by 26 percent since 2008, “despite the fact that we’ve grown over 2 million square feet.”
Morck said although there are only two charging stations that allow charging of two cars each, UNM will continue to add stations as the demand for EV stations continues to grow.
“We want to encourage alternative transportations, because 44,000 to 55,000 people a day come to campus, and with only 13,000 parking spaces, parking can be kind of tight and it can become really congested,” Scott said. “But, if we can encourage alternative transportation, or other ways to get to campus that don’t necessarily involve one person in one vehicle, it is good for us to encourage that.”
Moreover, Scott emphasized that as the technology continues to evolve, PATS needs to “stay on top” of the increasing demand for electric powered vehicles, charging stations and being accommodating to UNM customers and consumers.
PATS student employee Brenda Macias explained the importance of PATS and PPD shifting towards renewable energy sources.
“As transportation is changing to more alternative fuel sources, I think it’s important for everybody to be doing so and stop using non-renewable resources,” Macias said. “When people have access to alternative energies it’s an incentive for people to buy and use electrical vehicles."