Charleston test platform for new all-electric vehicle

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Kerry Fields
  • 437th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Over the next six months four new, energy-saving vehicles can be seen zipping across the base's roads.

The Department of Transportation-certified, all-electric, zero-pollution, low-speed vehicles are Miles ZX40 and ZX40S. They are capable of moving at speeds of 25 mph for 50 miles before a recharge is needed. The average cost of a "fill-up" for these vehicles is $1.40. That means these vehicles have the equivalent efficiency of a gas-powered vehicle that gets 100 miles per gallon.

The ZX40 is powered by a 5.4 HP engine and accelerates from 0 to 18.6 mph in 11.92 seconds. The ZX40S, the sports car version of the ZX40, goes from 0 to 18.6 mph in three seconds. The S version is powered by an 8.45 HP engine and costs around $14,500.

Not only does being all-electric save the Air Force money in fuel, the vehicles also absolve the need for oil changes, spark plugs and other maintenance costs associated with gas-powered engines.

"I'd say the overall best thing about these vehicles is the cost savings," said Master Sgt. Luis Reyes, the 437th Logistics Readiness Squadron Vehicle Management Flight superintendent.

"Other than the fact it is electric, the ZX40 drives just like a normal car. Since it doesn't have a conventional engine, it's also very quiet," said Staff Sgt. Joshua Krautner.

In order to maintain these state-of-the-art machines, Staff Sgt. Joshua Krautner and Staff Sgt. Daniel Moore, special purpose vehicle mechanics, attended training at the National Alternative Fuel Training Consortium in Morgantown, West Va.

"Electric is going to take over; it has the potential to save resources and manpower. Instead of having one mechanic for every 10 vehicles, you could have one for every 60," said Chief Master Sgt. Robert Downing, 437th LRS vehicle management flight chief.

The vehicles are on loan from Miles Automotive Group based in Malibu, Calif., for a six-month trial period, said 1st Lt. Matthew Wallaart, the 437th LRS vehicle management flight commander.

"During this time, various agencies and squadrons will utilize these vehicles in everyday operations to determine their feasibility for future Air Force purchases. The Air Force is currently looking to acquire 7,000 LSVs by 2008," he said.

The push for new fuel efficient vehicles is Air Force-wide. Through the EPAct of 2005, Congress is pushing the Air Force to move to a 30 percent LSV fleet by 2010. The objective: to reduce dependence on foreign oil and decrease air emissions.

"This is the beginning of things to come," Sergeant Reyes said.

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