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Electric cars can park and plug in Oxford

By Samantha Silber
On April 18, 2014

Miami University's Marcum Center parking lot on East Quad has a little known secret: it is home to a pair of electric car chargers, the only two of their kind in Oxford.

The chargers can be accessed from four parking spaces and have been functional for a year, according to Ritter Hoy, Miami's media relations coordinator. It is uncertain how many people have used the station since its installation last April, as the SD card designed to track this number was not working. It has recently been replaced.

However, Hoy said there are only three electric cars in Oxford. One of them is driven by geography professor James Rubenstein. Another electric car is owned by the husband of a faculty member. The man works in downtown Cincinnati, where, according to Hoy, he could go four blocks in either direction without coming across an electric car charger.

That is not to say there are no electric car spaces in the area. A map made by the U.S. Department of Energy showed several chargers in the Cincinnati area as well as two additional stations in Butler County.

Miami's spaces cost the university $26,000, according to the Dayton Daily News, but use of the chargers is free, although there are slots in the machine that Hoy speculated were designed for Marcum Center key cards.

When asked if she thought the university might start charging for the spots if electric cars become more popular, Hoy said, "Probably not." Referring to guests of the Marcum Center, she said, "It only costs them like one dollar to charge a car."

Hoy said charging stations are more efficient than their at-home equivalent, and can do in a few hours what typically takes closer to ten.

Hoy approximated the spaces had been finished in June, 2012, though it took just under a year to make them fully operational. The parking spaces were part of renovations made to the Marcum Center that finished in 2012. The project manager who ordered the spaces no longer works for Miami, Hoy said, so there is no clear explanation as to why these spaces were ordered.

The chargers' location allows those visiting Miami for conferences to travel in their electric vehicles, but Hoy said it would be difficult for anyone to travel a great distance in an electric car because of the need to recharge along the way.

Electric car drivers might also have trouble nabbing the spaces before a regular car does. Currently, the Miami University Police Department is not fining students for using the spaces, although the four orange cones around the machine suggest this may change in the future. Local lawmakers may have to set regulations on who can use these spaces as well.

When asked if she thought electric cars were going to become more prevalent, Hoy raised her hands and shrugged, "It's hard to say. I don't know; I really don't."

Hoy said, in the face of parking space cutbacks, there are no current plans to build additional electronic spaces. For now, two chargers should sufficiently accommodate the three electric vehicles cruising the streets of Oxford.

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