UC Irvine Cleans Up in Outstanding Air Quality Awards

ZEV•NET program recognized for excellent efforts in clean air initiatives

The Zero Emission Vehicle • Network Enabled Transport (ZEV•NET) program, operated by the National Fuel Cell Research Center (NFCRC) at UC Irvine, was honored with the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s prestigious 2008 Innovative Transportation Projects Award in recognition of the program’s outstanding contributions to clean air.

ZEV•NET, a unique, environmentally friendly transportation program, is designed to give commuters an easy travel alternative - the use of electric vehicles during their daily commute to and from the Irvine Transportation Center and their work destinations in the Irvine Spectrum area. Access to the shared-use vehicles encourages mass transit, while providing the convenience of personal vehicles, and helps to significantly reduce local traffic congestion, emissions, and the use of fossil fuels. 

The Toyota Rav4 electric vehicles (Rav4-EV) are equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) technology and scheduling software that allows the vehicles to be efficiently shared. 

The Irvine Transportation Center is served by Amtrak and Metrolink passenger rail services, and is a recognized hub for express, local, and “rail-feeder” bus services via the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA). ZEV•NET participants depart from their train or bus and hop in a parked Rav4-EV, a compact sport utility vehicle powered by a maintenance-free, permanent magnet motor, producing 50 kilowatts of power, similar to about a 67-horsepower gasoline engine. 

The commuters can use the Rav4-EVs for local business trips, traveling from the station to work, and visa-versa.  At day’s end, they return the vehicle to the transportation center, plugging it into a designated charger, and continue on a train or bus to their final destination.

The Rav4-EVs can go up to 78 miles per hour, and travel from 70 to 100 miles per charge, depending on driver habits and driving conditions.

To get involved, companies identify a minimum of two drivers who commute daily to and from the Irvine Transportation Center, retain an additional pool of at least eight drivers who will use the vehicle throughout the day, and pay an annual leasing fee of $5,000 per two vehicles.  The program offers online reservations, wireless networking, Smart Card vehicle access, charging stations at the Irvine Transportation Center, real-time monitoring of vehicle performance and status, and 24-hour roadside assistance.

ZEV•NET launched in 2002 through the efforts of Professor Scott Samuelsen, Ph.D., director of the NFCRC and professor of mechanical, aerospace, and environmental engineering, and Toyota, in collaboration with Professor Will Recker, Ph.D., who is affiliated with UC Irvine’s Institute of Transportation Studies.

UC Irvine’s Parking and Transportation Services Sustainable Transportation Program also received a 2008 Innovative Transportation Projects Award, which encompasses the vanpool, BikeUCI, and Project Greenlight programs, encouraging the use of “green” travel alternatives, and helping to reduce campus and local congestion and improve overall air quality. 

The South Coast Air Quality Management District honors individuals, businesses, and organizations annually that have made outstanding contributions toward improving Southern California’s air quality.  For more information, please visit http://www.aqmd.gov/Default.htm.

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