Nearly two-dozen sponsors have signed on for the 14th annual electric vehicle road-rally championship. In addition to their financial support, most sponsors are finding ways to participate actively in the Tour de Sol: The Great American Green Transportation Festival.
The Tour de Sol travels each year through the Northeastern United States combining a competitive road rally with a series of festivals showcasing electric-drive vehicles and a variety of other "green" transportation options. Among this year's sponsors are four major auto manufacturers as well as other corporations and a number of local, state, and federal agencies dedicated to cleaner and more energy-efficient transportation and energy options.
The two major sponsors for this year's events are the American Honda Motor Company and the United States Department of Energy. The Department of Energy has been with the tour since it began fourteen years ago and has viewed the event as a major testing ground for advanced automotive technologies. Over the years, the Department has gathered a great deal of real-world information about energy efficiency and environmental impacts of new auto technologies.
Honda returns for the third time as the lead corporate sponsor of the Tour de Sol. Honda plans to introduce a brand new hybrid vehicle-using the Tour as the on-road debut for its new Civic Hybrid. This five-seat sedan is expected to achieve an EPA-rated 50 miles per gallon and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 80 percent. In addition, several hybrid vehicles built by Honda are expected to compete in the road rally portion of the Tour.
Other high-level sponsors include the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency(NYSERDA) and Ensco, Inc. Ensco provides computerized scoring services for the road rally portion of the Tour as well as "real time" updates of vehicle positions via their web site. NYSERDA is involved in promoting the Tourto the general public as well as providing an exhibit during the New York City finish line festival.
Other auto manufacturers sponsoring the tour include DaimlerChrysler, which will display three different vehicles including its recently announced fuel cell prototype called the Natrium, the GEM electric neighborhood vehicle, and a soon to be announced hybrid electric prototype. Toyota will display its popular hybrid Prius sedan and will provide test-drives through local dealers. Ford TH!NK Mobility will join the Tour for the finish line festival in New York City to showcase its TH!NK City electric vehicle, which will go on sale next fall.
Other significant sponsors include Aramark Corporation, a food service company; Automotive Wire; CommuterPage.com; the Electric Vehicle Association of the Americas; National Grid; the New York City Department of Transportation; the New York Power Authority; the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; the Sustainable Development Fund; and the U.S. Department of Transportation. The New Jersey Department of Transportation, Millenium Cell, the City of Philadelphia, the City of Baltimore, and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission are providing additional support.
Several dozen vehicles--some currently available on the market as well as some one-of-a-kind vehicles--will compete in the 320-mile road rally from Washington, D.C. to New York City. Tour de Sol festivals will be held during National Transportation Week, May 12-18, 2002 in Baltimore, Md.; Washington, D.C.; Annapolis, Md.; Philadelphia; Trenton; and New York City. All the festivals are free and open to the public.
The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association is a regional association involved in promoting awareness, understanding, and development of non-polluting, renewable energy technologies. Headquartered in Greenfield, Mass., NESEA has worked in the fields of transportation, building construction and renewable energy for over 27 years. For more information on the Tour de Sol festivals, electric-drive vehicles, and free educational resources go to www.nesea.org or call 413-774-6051.