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Tesla visit offers a test drive in sustainability

Areas of Study , Entrepreneurship , Event Recaps , Stories Sustainable Business | Oct 07, 2013 |

by Patrick Verel
adapted from Inside Fordham

An exotic black car was spotted doing laps around the Rose Hill campus on October 1.

The sleek sedan seen quietly ferrying Fordham juniors and seniors to and from Hughes Hall was a Tesla S60kw, an electric car that travels 300 miles on a single charge. Its visit was part of Professor Michael Pirson’s Sustainable Business Foundations, the overview class for the sustainable business minor.

The course surveys the principles of doing business around the “3 P’s”: people, planet and profit. Professor Pirson said he makes a point to “invite companies that represent those to come speak to class.”

Past company representatives have addressed students from the confines of the classroom, but the October 1 class was more hands-on. Students took turns riding around campus in the Tesla with senior Steve Treacy (GSB ’14), who has a job outside of school as a product specialist for the 10-year-old San Carlos-based car company. Before and after their test drives, students peppered Tesla ownership specialist Jeff Cuje with questions about the company.

Cuje explained how the S60kw, which has a base price of  $70,000, can be charged overnight at a public charging dock, at one of the company’s “Supercharger” stations, which gradually are opening around the country, or at any home with a 240-volt connector.

Even though many homes still get their energy via coal-fired plants, Cuje said that in the long run, it’s still cleaner than cars with traditional internal combustion engines powered by oil.

John McConnell (GSB ’14), who is majoring in finance and pursuing the entrepreneurship concentration, counted himself as a fan.

“The idea of finding a car that runs on a sustainable energy source is not going away, so Tesla is really at the forefront,” he said. “A lot of other companies have electric models, but that is not their core competency. Tesla’s core competency, as far as what they’re making, is electric cars.”

After graduation, John hopes to work for a company that is focused on solving the problems of today with the future in mind. General Electric’s “Ecomagination,” program, for example, examines companies’ products to see how they might be replaced with something more sustainable.

“Some of them aren’t textbook-sustainable products,” he said. “Fluorescent light bulbs, for instance, aren’t really good for the environment; they just use less energy. But I want to be part of a company that’s looking to solve those issues.”



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