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Sunday, Dec 21, 2014

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One of the new 2014 Honda Insight hybrid vehicles in the University's rental fleet.

Photographer: Katie Hendershot

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New hybrid vehicles added to University rental fleet


Two brand new white 2014 Honda Insight Hybrids have joined the fleet to replace the highly sought after hybrid models previously rented out by Ohio University Transportation Services. In the past, hybrid vehicles were the most commonly requested vehicles to be rented from the department. They were used so much that one Honda hybrid reached nearly 130,000 miles and had to be removed from the fleet.

“There’s a lot going on with global warming right now and the environment,” Marty Paulins, director of transportation and parking services said. “The hybrids are on the market to appeal to that.”

The hybrids have many features that contribute to a more “green” experience while driving. Technology in the car, such as Eco Assist, provides feedback to the driver and tells them if they are driving fuel efficiently. Visual images of leaves and colors help to indicate the efficiency levels. The car also tells the driver the average miles per gallon of the car. Currently, one of the hybrids averages at 37.2 miles per gallon. The cars have the potential to average around 40-42 miles per gallon.

Paulins explained that the hybrids alternate between using gas and a battery. When the car idles, it switches over to using the battery so it doesn’t burn additional fuel. The cars don’t need to be plugged in to recharge because the battery is charged through the braking system.

Transportation Services offers 50 rental cars to faculty and students to use for university-related business. Paulins explains each year, they try to update as many vehicles as the budget will allow. Typically vehicles last about 5-7 years in the fleet.

The University tries to keep all of the vehicles in the fleet, which range from vans to the hybrids, at the government-set standard for mileage called Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE).

“Sometimes we have to go by what our customer needs are, like we just added Honda Pilots. They don’t meet CAFE standards, but they haul eight people and we have to meet customer requirements that people want to haul eight people. Is it more economical to drive four people in two hybrids or put all eight people in one vehicle? So it’s an economy of scale thing,” Paulins said.

The hybrids can be rented through Parking Services by calling (740) 593-1611. The cars cost $12 per day and 38 cents per mile, which includes the cost of fuel.