Dozens of "green" vehicles have crossed the finish line after a grueling real-world road test from Washington to New York. This year's results from the Tour de Sol, the Great American Green Transportation Festival, show how much these advanced technology vehicles - many of them already on the market - are ready for prime time. Affordable and comfortable, they can cut our country's energy use and our greenhouse gas emissions at the same time, according to event organizers.
Among the many awards in a number of categories, some of the most coveted from the Tour de Sol are the "Greenest Vehicle" awards given to the vehicles that demonstrate high energy efficiency (miles per gallon) and low greenhouse gas emissions. This year's prize for the greenest light duty vehicle in the Production Division was awarded to two vehicles that tied in this category: a Honda Insight entered by a team named "Drive To Work" from Bedminster, N.J., and a Toyota Prius entered by S&S Auto Sports of Tulsa, Okla.
Both of these hybrid-electric vehicles demonstrated an average of 55 miles per gallon over the 300 mile course and a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by more than 55 percent compared to the average new car on the road today.
In the Prototype Division the prize for greenest light duty vehicle went to West Philadelphia (Pa.) High School whose battery-electric Saturn achieved the equivalent of 180 miles per gallon fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction of nearly 80 percent.
Overall, the Greenest Vehicle Award went to the Climate Cooler II, an electric powered motor scooter entered by a team from the United Nations Environmental Program. This vehicle demonstrated the equivalent of 280 miles per gallon fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction of more than 85 percent compared to new vehicles averages.
A number of the vehicles participating in the Tour de Sol this year are already on the market including the new Honda Civic Hybrid, the Honda Insight hybrid, the Toyota Prius hybrid, the DaimlerChrysler GEM electric vehicle, Advanced Vehicle Systems AVS22 hybrid bus, and TH!NK City from Ford. Many other Tour de Sol vehicles are one-of-a-kind prototypes that give us a preview of the types of fuels and energy efficient cars, trucks, and scooters we may see available in coming years.
"The greatest news from the Tour this year is that these cleaner vehicles are out there on the market and folks can buy them right away," said Nancy Hazard, organizer of the Tour. "Tens of thousands of people came out to see the vehicles during our weeklong series of festivals and many of them came away with an interest in owning one of these new cars."
Other top finishers in the prototype division include: Hybrid, Team Paradyne from the University of Tulsa; Battery Electric, Sojourner 1 from West Philadelphia High School; Two Person Solar, Solar Black Bear from the University of Maine; One Person Solar, Zodiac from the West Irondequoit High School in New York; One Person, La Clean Machine from Personal Electric Transports in Hawaii; and Hydrogen, Electric Blue from the Eco Living Fellowship in New Jersey.
Another top finisher in the production division's Heavy Duty Category was the AVS22 Hybrid Electric Bus from Advanced Vehicle Systems in Tennessee.
The lead sponsors for this year's Tour are the United States Department of Energy and American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
Other major sponsors include the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA); Ensco, Inc.; AirLink Communications, Inc.; and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Supporting sponsors include DaimlerChrysler, Toyota, Ford TH!NK Mobility, Aramark Corp., Arlington County Commuter Assistance Program, AutomotiveWire, ECD/Ovonic, Electric Vehicle Association of the Americas, National Grid, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, New York City Department of Transportation, New York Power Authority, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, State of Maryland, Sustainable Development Fund, U.S. Department of Transportation, and Verizon.
Tour de Sol festivals were held in Baltimore, Washington, Annapolis, Philadelphia, Trenton, and New York City.
The Tour de Sol: The Great American Green Transportation Festival is organized each year by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA), 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 more than 27 years.
Additional information about NESEA and about the Tour De Sol can be found online at www.nesea.org