Skip to main content

August 28, 2017

Electric cars steer driver ed students away from gas guzzlers

Johnson County Community College is setting the pace for teaching new drivers about sustainability. The College has added to its fleet the first electric car used for driver training in Kansas. Now future drivers in JCCC’s driver education courses get more than time behind the wheel; the 2017 Ford Fusion Energi gives them exposure to driving an electric vehicle and promotes planet-saving awareness.

Students led the effort

The JCCC Center for Sustainability's Student Sustainability Committee (SSC) assisted with the purchase of the plug-in EV.

“The students sent a clear message about wanting to reduce the use of gasoline-only vehicles for the fleet,” said Josh Smith, Transportation Program Director, JCCC Continuing Education.

The SSC supported the EV project because it will allow student drivers to experience alternative fuel vehicles. Instructors encourage students to test the capabilities the car offers. Instructors think it’s important for drivers to be aware of and understand automotive technology they may encounter in the future.

The program already used a Prius for driver education, and Smith hopes this latest purchase is only the beginning of a “drive electric” transition. He sees it as an opportunity to introduce EVs to a young audience — and their parents.

Learning more than how to drive

“New drivers are getting exposure to electric vehicles, which in turn influences household buying decisions for their families,” he said.

JCCC’s SSC hopes to continue to impact the college fleet purchases by transitioning the number of gasoline-only vehicles to electric vehicles.

“The SSC supports any efforts to get more of the campus community engaged in conversations about alternative fuel transportation, and this project works particularly well with their goal to improve efficiency in all aspects of campus life,” said Kristy Wittman Howell, JCCC Sustainability Education and Engagement Coordinator.

Students love it

The EV has proved popular among students. (Smith sees a lot of selfies — when the car is off, of course.) Students are surprised by the car’s spaciousness, providing plenty of breathing room for three students and an instructor.

When it isn’t being used, the Fusion Energi often gets a charge from one of the KCP&L-sponsored Clean Charge Network Stations on campus — when they are available. “We have a number of charging stations on campus, and we see them used constantly,” Smith said. “It’s been fun to see an increasing number of EVs on campus.”

For more information about JCCC’s sustainability efforts, contact Howell at 913-469-8500, ext. 2883. To register for driver education courses, call 913-469-2323.