New wheels for Secrest Arboretum director requires new power source

WOOSTER, Ohio — Ken Cochran has gone electric.

The program director of Ohio State University’s Secrest Arboretum in northeast Ohio has switched to a battery-powered truck for his daily work.

New wheels

Cochran’s Mag International Electric MAG XC has room for a driver and passenger, a nearly 8-foot open bed for hauling tools and plants, a top speed of 25 mph — the speed limit, coincidentally, on the OARDC campus — and can travel up to 50 miles per charge.

Cochran said he drives a bit less than that in a typical week.

“We use (the new truck) on and off the road. It’s compact in size, so we can take it places where we hadn’t been able to take a truck before, even right down to the stage in the (arboretum’s) amphitheater,” Cochran said.

“And it’s quiet,” he added, noting that the arboretum hosts not only scientific research on landscape plants but nature walks, gardening classes, and the occasional wedding and concert.

Cost and upkeep

“People ask all the time, ‘Where’s the noise?’”

Cost was about $16,000. Recharge time is six to 12 hours using a 120/240-volt charging system. The new truck replaced an old conventional gasoline-powered pickup that was due for replacement.

“(The new truck) is a bit cramped inside,” Cochran said. (The manufacturer describes it as a mini utility vehicle.) “And the batteries run down faster if we drive it a lot on hills. But environmentally it’s a lot better for the campus, and I think when we can do something like that, we should do it.”

OARDC is the research arm of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and is the largest university agricultural bioscience research center in the United States.

The college’s new blog on sustainability is at http://sustainability.cfaes.ohio-state.edu.

The Secrest Arboretum and the main OARDC campus remain closed to the public for cleanup and repairs following a Sept. 16 tornado strike.

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