The Associated Students of the University of Montana will launch its first zero-emission vehicles this week. ASUM Office of Transportation Director Jordan Hess says these two new buses are very efficient.

“This is a really unique product because they charge on the route,” said Hess. “We have a charger located at the music building on Maurice Ave. and every 24 minutes when the bus passes that point it will doc up to that charging station for just a couple minutes and charge at the time. With that configuration, they can actually go 24/7 basically topping off the battery a couple times an hour.”

Hess says they hope to add even more electric busses in the future in an effort to transition their whole fleet in this new direction.

“It is about $800,000 per bus which is a lot more expensive than the diesel bus, but we expect about a 10 year payoff because electric busses are so much cheaper to operate,” Hess said. “It is a high upfront cost, but it will save the university and our organization money in the long term.”

ASUM will host an official ribbon cutting at 11 a.m. Friday on the UM Oval, becoming the first campus in America to bring fast-charging electric buses to a university fleet.