The term green vehicle is thrown around a lot these days, and some people are still not completely clear on what it constitutes. Does it mean pure electric cars? Hybrids? Or just something that’s fuel-efficient?
Part of the purpose of the Automobile Journalist Association of Canada (AJAC) EcoRun is to shed some light on the matter, an event where accredited journalists pilot the newest environmentally-friendly models available on the market on a variety of roads, at the same time implementing driving techniques that reduce gas consumption. Held in B.C. the past two years, the two-day drive took place in Ontario for 2016.
“EcoRun is a great annual event that shows off a variety of eco-friendly vehicles, and this year’s fifth instalment there’s 27 participating in this showcase run from Toronto to Ottawa via Bellville and Kingston. It’s great way profile green technology and to raise awareness,” said Mark Taylor, deputy mayor of Ottawa during the closing presentation outside city hall in the nation’s capital.
The 27 vehicles mentioned included almost everything under the sun, from the new redesigned Toyota Prius and Mazda CX-3 to luxury cars like Lexus RX 450h and even a Porsche Carrera. You’re probably thinking, “How is a 911 considered green?” Well, the brand’s new smaller-displacement 3.0-litre turbocharged engine, as are the motors in all the participating entries, yield low L/100 km numbers that have been tested and reported by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).
It’s amazing, then, that the journalists managed to net a collective 32.7 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency over NRCan’s official scores across the vehicles.
To do so, drivers applied techniques such as keeping a constant steady speed, when safe to do so, rather than constantly jabbing the accelerator and brakes; avoiding excessively high speeds; anticipating traffic leaving plenty of time to gradually slow down and accelerate and so forth. The idea is to practice these habits in as realistic a manner as possible to demonstrate the efficacy in day-to-day commuting, which is the other goal of the EcoRun.
Among the 27 offerings, I was assigned the Nissan Altima, Smart Fortwo Cabrio, Toyota Prius, Mazda MX-5, Honda Civic Sedan, Chevrolet Spark, Ford Focus 1.0-litre EcoBoost and Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid, achieving an average 5.3 L/100 km (compared to NRCan’s 7.5), 4.1 L/100 km (6.9), 3.2 L/100 km (4.5), 5.3 L/100 km (7.8), 5.4 L/100 km (6.4), 5.8 L/100 km (7.3), 4.6 L/100 km (6.7) and 3.8 L/100 km (5.9), respectively. The cars were driven on a mixture of busy city streets, empty backcountry roads and gridlocked highways during the journey between the two major cities.
Also making an appearance for the first time on Ontario roads was Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the Mirai, which is currently only available in the United States and Japan. The zero-emission vehicle, looking a little like a next-generation Prius, posted the lowest L/100 km equivalent figure next to the Nissan Leaf at 2.7 Le/100 km, an improvement of 0.8 over NRCan’s own results.
“We’re moving to a world where eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable as well as being consumer-friendly are all one and the same,” said Taylor.
Photos: Benjamin Yong