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Oregon's two major universities are going green by adding several electric cars to their fleets.

Video: Universities electrify fleets

Staffers at OSU say the vehicles not only help save the environment, they save time, said Angela Haney, who works in the OSU catering department.

She and the other staffers drive "Buzz" on a regular basis.

"This is referred to in our department as 'Buzz.' Yep, we've named him 'Buzz,' "said Haney with a laugh.

'Buzz' is one of the newer additions to Oregon State and it looks, different than most trucks.

"It's kind of funny. We always laugh at them because they're small and funny looking. But, it's cool," said Taylor Hansen, a sophomore at OSU.

"Most people are used to filling up - but filling up for an electric vehicle is a little different," said Justin Fleming Motor, manager of the OSU motor pool as he demonstrates how to plug the car in.

'Buzz' the truck and the other electric vehicles hardly make any noise at all.

"It's really cool. You turn it on and there's no sound," said Haney, as she turned the key in the ignition.

The vehicles run entirely on electric power.

"We really promote the use of smart transportation," said Fleming.

Electric vehicles are smarter vehicles and they have longer term viability than a gasoline automobile, said Fleming. "If we don't support them now, we won't be enjoying the benefits in the future," he said.

'Buzz' is just one of the three newer electric vehicles to come to Oregon State University. Managers plan to have at least 25 more electric vehicles over the next five years.

There are now a total of seven zipping around campus at about 25 miles an hour, said Fleming.

"It's just one of the efforts that we're making towards being greener," said Haney.

Students were on board with that idea.

"If we start it now, all the people that are going to school here; all the students and my classmates will hopefully bring that into the workforce," said Zach Davis, an OSU senior.

"I'm really proud to go to a school that cares that much. It's really important to me too," said Hansen.

From catering, mail delivery to recycling services, the staff said the electric vehicles make doing their jobs much easier.

"Especially since it's a smaller campus; with smaller cars that uses less gas. That's always great," said sophomore, Allison Hunt.

What about cost? The motor pool at OSU is a self sustaining service center that does not receive any state budget money, said Fleming. The motor pool pays overhead to the university to operate, but it is still considered a university organization.

"It's not about money," said Fleming. It's about managing a smarter transportation system, he said.

"When you say you want to go green and want to be sustainable, sometimes that comes with a higher price. But, when you're willing to pay that higher price and find the savings somewhere else by having a smart business, I think we are a national leader [at that]," he added.

OSU also added five electric charging stations on campus to recharge the cars while they're parked overnight.

And 'Buzz' seems to fit right in.

"We plug him in at night. Everybody thought, 'it's a new year. We like [the name] Buzz,' " said Haney with a laugh.

What about the University of Oregon?

The school added four electric vehicles to its fleet in March, said Bill Kasper, purchasing manager for the school. That means U of O now has six electric vehicles on campus, not counting the golf carts, said Kasper.

Both universities received their latest fleet vehicles from local dealer "MC Electric Vehicles" in Vancouver.

"Our customers right now are asking for 'green,' fuel efficient vehicles and I don't expect to see that go away. So, that's what I expect to see in the future," said Fleming.

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