Clemson unveils electric vehicle charging station, car-sharing program

The gentle whir of an electric motor in a Chevy Volt, to be precise marked the start of a new era for Clemson University on Wednesday.
A single ceremony unveiled two new additions to the campus: Clemson's first electric vehicle charging station and a new car-sharing program for students, faculty and staff.
Both are a step toward helping Clemson alleviate parking problems, traffic congestion and carbon emissions.

"We're entering a new era of transportation, locally and globally," said Dan Hofmann, Clemson's director of parking and transportation services. "We need to better utilize our resources, and alternative transportation is a key part of that."

The car-sharing program, called WeCar, is a membership-based, automated car rental program that allows Clemson students, faculty and staff to rent vehicles by the hour. Offered by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, it provides an alternative to privately owned cars and the traffic and parking challenges they pose.

WeCar provides students at Clemson University with a low-cost, convenient transportation solution located right on the campus, said Ryan Johnson, assistant vice president, WeCar and Rideshare for Enterprise. Our car-sharing program is a sustainable, totally automated and efficient mobility option that can help alleviate parking and transportation challenges."

Members reserve a vehicle online, then access the vehicle using a membership card and return it to the same location. Fuel and basic liability protection are included in the plan.

Rates to use a car range from $7.50 to $8.50 per hour, $57 per day and $35 for overnight use. The first 200 miles of any rental are free, with a fee of 20 cents per mile for additional miles.

A fleet of fuel-efficient WeCar vehicles is maintained at buildings across the campus: the Volt at the Hendrix Student Center, a Toyota Prius at Fike Recreation Center, a Ford Fiesta near Sirrine Hall and a Volkswagen Jetta is at Sikes Hall.

"WeCar not only serves to reduce vehicles on campus, but the vehicles we selected for the program also support sustainability in that they are all low-emission, fuel-efficient vehicles," said Vice President for Student Affairs Gail DiSabatino. "It supports our sustainability goals and provides Clemson students, faculty and staff with the convenience of a cost-effective, responsible and eco-friendly way to get around, whether to run errands, travel to meetings or to take a road trip."

Since the program was first made available last month, more than 100 people have joined the WeCar program at Clemson, Hofmann said. Clemson is the first university in the state to offer the program; a similar program is in place at Duke University and more than 40 other campuses from Massachusetts to Oregon.

When the electric vehicle charging station at the Hendrix Center isn't charging the WeCar Volt, it will be available without charge for privately owned electric vehicles, Hofmann said. Use of the charging station will help officials decide when new stations will be needed.

The electric vehicle charging station and the WeCar program are continuing steps to improve traffic flow and parking at Clemson, in part by reducing the number of cars on campus by offering more options to students, faculty and staff.

Hofmann introduced Zimride, an online ride-matching service that allows students, faculty and staff to coordinate carpools to and from campus, earlier this semester. Also under study is increasing the number of parking spaces for carpool vehicles and offering preferred parking spaces to both carpoolers and drivers with low-emission vehicles.

"I see a lot of potential for Clemson to be a model for other academic institutions when it comes to parking and transportation issues," Hofmann said. "Today is another step in that direction."
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