Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Free Two-Week Test Drive Of Electric Vehicle Available To UC Residents

Tennessee Tech Professors are allowing anyone in the Upper Cumberland to take a two-week test drive of an electric vehicle.

Chen said anyone can sign up to test either a Nissan Leaf or hybrid Ford F-250.

The program being led by Professor Pingen Chen for Tech’s Mechanical Engineering Department. Chen said charging infrastructure is now established in eight counties so that program participants do not worry about running out of battery.

“I would like to say that more than 95 percent of the participants have shown a very positive experience,” Chen said. “And some of them, after they test drive an electric vehicle they went one step further to even adopt an electric vehicle.”

Chen said vehicles that reduce fueling costs by 50 percent are the perfect fit in an economically distressed region.

Chen said there are no costs, except for using charging stations. He said paying for charging is a designed component for the project, showing users how much cheaper it makes their commute.

He said testing will be available until the end of 2022, and the easiest way to sign up is googling Tennessee Tech Electric Vehicle Program.

“This is a very typical rural area with low population density and the people need to travel for a long distance for their work,” Chen said. “So this will create a significant demand for electric vehicle. Particularly when people are realizing electric vehicle has a very good fuel saving benefit and a low-maintenance cost.”

Chen said this test-bed program came to be because of the U.S. Department of Energy’s interest in electric vehicle research in rural areas. He said that more than 250 people have expressed interest in participating and so far, more than 50 people have used this program.

“We have a small fleet of electric vehicles, including three Nissan Leafs,” Chen said. “Which can support 150 miles of travelling or 230 miles of travelling, per full charge.”

Chen said the Upper Cumberland in particular, shows promise for a strong transition to electric vehicles. He said this belief stems from Tennessee becoming a manufacturing hub for the southeastern United States.

“We have Volkswagen, Nissan North America and General Motors are all manufacturing or plan to roll out electric vehicles in the near future,” Chen said. “So this is a great position. We have have seen a lot of electric vehicles manufactured in the state of Tennessee and the people in this region are aware of the manufacturers.”

Chen said the data collected during this program will be analyzed for reporting to fleet owners and the public. He said said this is to help residents and regional stakeholders make informed decisions about electric vehicle investments before making any financial investment.