‘Green’ car charges down electric avenueBy Jim Bishop For Mennonite Weekly Review
HARRISONBURG, Va. — The license plate reads, “EPOWER.”
Most appropriate, because electricity is what powers Carmen Schrock-Hurst’s primary source of transportation, a bright red GEM car nicknamed “Ladybug.”
GEM stands for Global Electric Motorcars, a Chrysler company in Fargo, N.D., that is turning out a fleet of battery-operated small vehicles for people who want to “drive green.”
The miniature motorcar is permitted on public roads as a “low-speed vehicle.” Its top speed of 25 mph means it’s restricted to streets with speed limits of 35 mph. But that’s all right with Schrock-Hurst.
Her primary occupation — in addition to household executive, mother of three and supportive spouse to Luke M. Schrock-Hurst — is coordinator of volunteer programs at Rockingham Memorial Hospital’s Hospice. As of March 1, she’s also co-pastor with her husband at Immanuel Mennonite Church.
Carmen Schrock-Hurst has been the principal driver of the GEM car since acquiring it three years ago from a couple who brought it east from California.
“I love it,” she said. “It’s fun to drive, and it gets me practically anywhere I want to go — the four miles to my work on Stone Spring Road, grocery shopping at Red Front, to pick up son Caleb at EMHS [Eastern Mennonite High School]. Certain roads I just avoid because of the speed limitations.”
The car is “safer than a scooter or moped,” she said. There’s more protection from the weather, and it has a roll bar, safety glass, turn signals and headlights for night driving. It seats two people comfortably and has a decent-size trunk.
The vehicle is plugged into a regular outlet overnight and draws no more electricity than a computer. It goes about 25 miles on an eight-hour charge. The batteries last three to five years.
There’s no heater, air conditioning or radio, although these can be installed, along with numerous other options, at additional cost. The canvas sides can be rolled back in warm weather.
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