The University’s fleet has been electrified by the conversion of six conventional vehicles — including two in the UCLA Vanpool Program — to hybrid electric vehicles. This is the latest UCLA Transportation initiative to cut climate-altering emissions from mobile sources by expanding their cache of alternative fuel vehicles.
Converting vehicles into hybrids, which helps Fleet Services lower operating costs and meet sustainability goals, was a perfect fit for vanpools. The vanpool program has been in service for over 30 years, with 146 vanpools coming into UCLA daily from every direction.
The hybrid conversion vans are commuting from Woodland Hills and Montclair/Claremont – communities 20 and 40 miles from campus. A 25-percent savings in fuel is expected from the newly outfitted vanpools.
On the road for almost two months, the six total sustainable fuel vans are operated by UCLA Transportation, the Ronald Reagan Medical Center and UCLA Recreation’s Outdoor Adventures.
Transforming the original vehicles into hybrids and making them more fuel efficient and cleaner was accomplished with technology from XL Hybrids. UCLA mechanics added an electric motor, advanced lithium-ion battery pack and control software. The installation took only five or six hours and was done on campus in the Fleet Services Yard.
With the XL Hybrid Electric Drive System, fuel is saved through regenerative braking, a process by which the electric motor helps slow the vehicle during braking, to charge the hybrid battery. When the driver accelerates, the hybrid battery releases the stored energy to the electric motor, helping to propel the vehicle.
UCLA’s inventory of partial and zero emission and alternative fuel vehicles also grew recently with the introduction of more Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf electric cars. Fleet Operations Manager Laurent Pompa, a driver of one of the new hybrid vans, said, “These are some of the steps we’re taking to supporting a fully sustainable fleet at UCLA.”
In California, transportation is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, according to air quality officials. Focusing on environmental impact is part of UCLA’s Climate Action Plan and the University of California systemwide pledge to become carbon neutral by 2025.