Towing firm uses electric vehicle for service calls

Monday, October 20, 2008

From a story by Barry Adams in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Bryan Biehl was eager to get his Pontiac Sunfire started, but he was also curious about Sparky, the quiet, small service truck that had arrived.

The electric vehicle, just put into service by Schmidt's Towing, turned heads as its driver, Mike Esser, made his way from the company's Beld Street shop to narrow Washburn Place just off of East Gorham Street on the Near East Side.

And because the vehicle is only about five feet wide and less than eight feet long, Esser had little trouble finding a place to park, something that's typically a challenge on the Isthmus.

"It's almost more visible than a flatbed truck," said Biehl. "I noticed it right away."

The $20,500 vehicle, which weighs about 1,200 pounds, is basically a souped-up golf cart, equipped with headlights, turn signals, a single windshield wiper and a heater.

It can't pull a car out of a ditch or tow a dead car to the shop, but Schmidt's Towing, which last year had almost 90,000 calls, is using the vehicle to save on gas and do minor service work like tire changes and refills, and jumping dead batteries in Madison's Downtown area. . . .