NEWS / FEATURES

Go, Green, Go!

October 2009

By John Darling

A new vineyard vehicle is bounding over the horizon. Called the Earth Utility Vehicle, it’s plug-in rechargeable, silent and doesn’t pump exhaust into the atmosphere. It’s also designed and built in Ashland, so it doesn’t make a big carbon footprint by being flown around the globe. 

The EUV is peppy off the line, has a thumb throttle, tops out at 30 mph and brakes with both hands. It’s not road legal, at least in Oregon and California, where initial marketing is taking place, says Max Scheder-Bieschin, owner of Barefoot Motors.

The EUV is great for all-around agricultural or resort use, but Scheder-Bieschin says about 40 percent of the just-unveiled vehicles are being sold to vineyard owners.

“There’s a lot of interest, and we’re very excited about it,” he noted. “It’ll do anything an ATV will do, but with better low-end torque and without the pollution—and it’s silent so you can operate it and be communicating on the phone.”

As for “green” credentials, Scheder-Bieschin says the EUV is 90 percent efficient, compared to 20 percent efficiency for the average internal combustion engine.

“What’s different is the EUV does it without pollution, noise and heat,” he said “A gas ATV has 11 to 34 times the emission per mile of a car.”

The EUV, he notes, costs a penny a mile to drive (not including purchase price), about 97 percent less than the cost of ATVs. It has no gears and its power is equal to an 800cc gas engine, he adds.

A four-wheel drive version costs $12,900, and a two-wheel drive design goes for $11,900. This compares with up to $9,000 for a gas ATV, he said, but the EUV qualifies for a $2,700 BETC (Business Energy Tax Credit) in Oregon. The vehicle is intended for those who manage land, rather than for recreation.

Scheder-Bieschin notes that the EUV has no oil and filter changes, no tune-ups, no radiator, no fuel lines, no spark plugs, no muffler, no transmission and no spark arrestor and can be used to clear timber without fire danger.

Jay Tapp, who ordered one to operate his eight-acre Serenade Vineyard in Ashland, said, “It’s absolutely, unbelievably quiet, obviously good for the environment and has very powerful torque and pull. It can pull a lot. It’s a dream for any type of agricultural situation.”

Tapp notes that the green features were big persuaders, as “everyone needs to move in the direction of being as green as possible—and there’s nothing as green as being able to plug it in and run it the entire day, up to 5 to 7 hours.”

Barefoot Motors began in Sonoma County in 2007 and moved to Oregon in October, 2008. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony in June, Ashland Mayor John Stromberg said Barefoot “is a distinctive company doing something progressive in the field of sustainability.”

The EUV can be seen in action at www.youtube.com/user/barefootmotors.

John Darling is an Ashland writer.

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