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A Hybrid at Southwestern



Southwestern’s first hybrid electric car has arrived. The Chevrolet Volt can travel 53 miles on electricity and up to 420 miles with a full charge and full tank of gas. Four dollars will get you from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Springfield, Missouri, even at the speed of 75 miles per hour. This is possible because you have the option of using gas if the electricity runs out.


The Volt’s exterior shape is similar to the Chevy Cruze; it is stream-lined and aerodynamic.

Ernesto TorresOrtiz, Property Management Specialist, Division of Acquisition and Facilities Services, addresses driving solely on electricity, “The one thing that is different: the drive is very quiet,” he says.

Fuel options are not something one usually has when it comes to a singular vehicle. The Volt switches to gas when the electric charge is depleted. After recharging, electric is available again. And the bonus for Southwestern owning such a vehicle? Lowering emissions and doing our part to help the environment for future generations.


Randy Staponski, Electronics Engineer, Division of System Protection & Communications in Springfield, takes the Volt for a spin.

Bill Heffner, Contractor Property Administrator, Division of Acquisition and Facilities Services says, “Our Administrator, Mike Wech, asked if we could find an alternatively-fueled vehicle to transport our team between Springfield and the new Nixa site. He said this was an opportunity for Southwestern to meet certain requirements from the Department of Energy and executive orders related to clean air and reducing green-house gas emissions. Since our program and our mission is not geared to using this type of vehicle normally, he wanted to seize the opportunity to show that Southwestern supports these initiatives when possible.”

The hybrid vehicle resides in Springfield where there are three charging stations available. The new Chevrolet Volt is white, has 4 cylinders, 5 seats, 4 doors and a hatchback, 10 airbags, and power windows. The hybrid will get 42 miles per gallon, and the electric range is 53 miles. Charging the car will take 9 hours for maximum capacity, which is easy to do overnight or before a trip. On average, the Volt can travel 1,100 miles between fill-ups with consistent charging, meaning weekly visits to the gas station are no longer necessary.

Bill Heffner says additionally, “This [vehicle] made the most economical sense and allows us to safely transport our personnel between locations, without the possibility of the battery dying between charges and stranding our personnel. When operating on battery we aren’t emitting any harmful gases and when operating on gasoline, we increase the miles per gallon and reduce the emissions as well. So you might say it was a no-brainer to get this type of vehicle.” 

With the purchase of this hybrid car, Southwestern now has a more economical choice when making business trips. Southwestern employees who drive the Volt will be able to recharge, relax, and enjoy the ride. 

By Chloe Bartley pao@swpa.gov

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