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Eye on the future

Oak Crest installs new hybrid, electric car charging station

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September 22nd, 2014
Oak Crest resident Daniel Kott charges his Toyota Prius Hybrid at the Parkville-based Erickson Living community’s new electric car charging station.
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The Crest sales team receives hundreds of questions like these from prospective residents each week: “How many restaurants are there on campus?” “What is the priority list?” “Can I bring my dog with me?” 

But, “Where do I plug my car in?” wasn’t one of them…until in walked Daniel Kott.

“I think they were somewhat surprised because no one had ever asked them that question before,” says Dan, a retired computer programmer who moved to Oak Crest a year ago.

Dan owns a 2012 Toyota Prius Hybrid, which uses a combination of electricity and gas to maximize fuel savings while minimizing carbon emissions. Dan says his hybrid allows him to get up to 100 miles per gallon. 

“Before I moved to Oak Crest, I drove about 10,000 miles a year,” says Dan. “When I would get home, I would just plug the car in and it was fully charged and ready to go. Since I moved to Oak Crest, I now only drive about 2,000 to 3,000 miles a year at the most because everything I need is right here. When I do drive, most of my driving consists of short commutes—errands, shopping, etc., so if my battery is fully charged up, I can run exclusively off electric.”

Dan says the environmental benefits to owning his hybrid are the icing on the cake.  

“I have no regrets about buying a hybrid car. You pay a little more up front, but the overall savings you get on gas in the long run is where you really see your return for your money. It’s also more environmentally friendly and to me that’s worth it,” he says.  

Sign of the times

A report indicates Dan is not alone. Experian, a leading global information services company, found that in 2013, Baby Boomers (ages 49 to 67) purchased the highest percentage of hybrid vehicles (47%), compared to three other generational groups—Millennials (people ages 32 and under), Generation X (33 to 48 years old), and the Silent Generation (68 to 85 years old). 

Baylor University set out to find what’s driving older Americans to go green, and what they discovered may surprise you. A national survey of 314 consumers age 60 and older who owned hybrid cars showed their satisfaction was influenced by social values—including pride and prestige—as well as quality and price, not only in vehicle purchase but in future savings on gasoline expenses.

Researchers found that mature consumers are concerned about how they appear to others when driving a hybrid car. “They believe that driving a hybrid car builds a positive self-image of the people who drive them,” researchers said. 

“Previous research has shown that older consumers are more inclined to behave in a pro-environment way than younger generations are,” said Jay Yoo, Ph.D., an assistant professor of family and consumer sciences in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences.

Taking charge

Regardless of their reason for buying a hybrid, Oak Crest anticipates the number of hybrid owners who will move to Oak Crest in the future will increase exponentially. In preparation for that arrival, they have recently installed an electric car charging station in front of the community’s Town Center Clubhouse. The high voltage stations can fully charge up to two vehicles at a time in about two to three hours. 

“Being on the cutting edge and providing services for current technology is important in attracting new residents to the community,” says Gary Hibbs, executive director at Oak Crest. 

Hibbs says in addition to the car charging station, Oak Crest is also investing in a fiberoptic infrastructure that will enable apartment doors to be opened with electronic key cards. Wireless Internet is also being installed campus-wide.

“Resident satisfaction is our number one priority,” says Chris Giesler, vice president of regional sales for Erickson Living. Giesler helped get the charging station project under way. “We listen to our residents and prospective residents. We care about what they care about. We also want to continue to be relevant and innovative in order to meet the needs of our future residents. If we are able to incorporate technology that makes their life better and do it in an environmentally responsible way, then it’s something we are definitely going to consider.”

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