Rally Showcases +100 MPG and Zero-Petroleum Vehicles

Modified Honda Insight driven broke the 100-mile-per-gallon barrier over a 150-mile range in the National 2005 Tour de Sol.

Published: 16-May-2005

Greenfield, MA - May 16, 2005 - A modified hybrid vehicle, a Honda Insight driven by Brian Hardegen of Pepperell, MA, has broken the 100-mile-per-gallon barrier over a 150-mile range in the National 2005 Tour de Sol held May 13-16 in Saratoga Springs and Albany, NY. A student team from West Philadelphia High School in Philadelphia, PA, has taken top honors with its purpose-built hybrid vehicle, which uses biodiesel instead of gasoline and produces 77% less climate-change emissions compared to a conventional gas car.

During the National 2005 Tour de Sol - the 17th annual sustainable-energy and transportation festival and competition -- over 60 hybrid, electric and biofueled vehicles from throughout the U.S. and Canada demonstrated that we have the technology today to power our transportation system with zero-oil consumption and zero climate-change emissions. Each vehicle showed new ways to reduce our dependence on foreign oil while reducing harmful pollutants.

"Each year, the Tour de Sol highlights the largest innovations in alternative-energy technology and advanced fuel vehicles, showcasing the future of the clean-energy and transportation industry," said New York State Gov. George E. Pataki. "Over the last 10 years, we've invested unprecedented funding into the research and development of clean-fuel technology and currently deploy more than 4,300 clean-fuel vehicles in our state-operated fleets. I'm proud that many of the cars and components featured in this year 's Tour de Sol are being developed right here in New York State, creating new markets and jobs for the 21st century while helping to clean our air and reduce our dependence on foreign oil."

"The students, businesses, New York State government officials, auto companies producing advanced vehicles, and people using new hybrid and biofuel vehicles in the Tour de Sol are the new American heroes of the 21st century," said Nancy Hazard, executive director of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association in Greenfield, MA, organizer of the Tour de Sol. "Every American is a winner because of their efforts to design, build and use advanced vehicles that aim to reduce imported oil and climate-change emissions today - offering an alternative solution to the energy and climate-change crises that threaten life as we know it"

Thousands of people came to see the vehicles and talk with the people participating in the three exciting competitions held during the National 2005 Tour de Sol. There were 41 entrants in the new Monte Carlo-style Rally, with several participating in the 100 MPG Challenge. The top-placing vehicles in the Monte Carlo-style Rally were: a Honda Insight driven by Mike Lewis of Portland, ME, averaging 79 MPG; a Toyota Prius driven by Jean Couto of Marlboro, MA, with 61 MPG; and a biodiesel Volkswagen Passat, delivering 77 MPG over a 500-mile range.

"We were very pleased by the performance of the various production vehicles entered in the Monte Carlo-style Rally and 100 MPG Challenge," said James Dunn, CEO of the Center for Technology Commercialization in Westboro, MA. The overall average performance of the 29 Toyota and Honda hybrid sedans exceeded 60 MPG, with a modified Honda Insight from Brian Hardegen of Pepperell, MA, delivering 107 MPG and a "plug-in" Toyota Prius from Valence Corp. in Austin, TX, averaging 102 MPG over a 150-mile range. The average of the 5 biodiesel vehicles was nearly 53 MPG, including the 20 MPG average of the Ford F250 pickup truck entered by Vogelbilt in West Babylon, NY. Two remarkable production vehicles were new Ford Escape hybrid SUVs from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority as well as RadAir in Parma, OH, achieving 35 and 43 MPG, respectively.

The most interesting overall vehicle was the novel "plug-in" hybrid demonstrated by Valence Corp. and EDrive in Monrovia, CA. This is a modified Toyota Prius with a much larger battery pack than the normal Prius, and charged with external grid power. On a 150-mile run, this vehicle achieved 102 MPG on the gasoline used, but also used 9 kilowatt-hours of electricity required to charge the special lithium-ion batteries, which cost less than $1 to recharge. Although this vehicle would be relatively expensive to buy if available today (due to extra battery cost) plug-in hybrids may become a viable future technology.

In the Tour de Sol Championship, which showcases concept vehicles built by students and entrepreneurs as well as some production vehicles, all but two of the entrants approached zero oil use by powering their vehicles with biodiesel, electricity, solar or natural gas. Of these, St. Mark's High School in Southboro, MA, and North Haven Community School, North Haven, ME, demonstrated true zero-oil consumption and true zero climate-change emissions with their modified electric Ford pick-up and Volkswagen bus, respectively, At home, they recharge their vehicles from wind and solar - demonstrating what can be done when electric vehicles are recharged by "clean electricity", which can be purchased throughout the U.S.

Three top-placing teams -- West Philadelphia High School, Quebec Advanced Transportation Institute (ITAQ) in St. Jerome, Quebec, Canada, and Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA -- demonstrated incredibly low greenhouse-gas emissions by running their vehicles on biodiesel. The ITAQ entry got 67 MPG in a diesel Mercedes SMART vehicle.

The E-bike and NEV Competition attracted over a dozen vehicles ranging from recumbent electric tricycles, to stand-up scooters, electric bicycles, and 4-wheeled /4-passenger NEVs (neighborhood electric vehicles). What all these vehicles have in common is that they run on electricity and are designed to meet our needs for local "around town" trips. The incredible efficiency of these lightweight vehicles truly demonstrates what can be achieved in the field of fuel efficiency. OptiBike of Boulder, CO, took first place with their pedal-assisted electric bike.

In addition to the vehicles participating in the National 2005 Tour de Sol, there were over 30 displays from auto, bus and NEV manufacturers, business and government leaders, all working together to produce clean transportation solutions for the U.S., Canada and beyond. Displays included: Toyota's hybrid Prius, Highlander SUV and Lexus RX 400h; Honda's three hybrid sedans -- Insight, Civic, and Accord -- its natural-gas Civic GX, and the FCX, one of its 30 hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles; natural-gas, propane and hybrid buses and trucks; emission-reduction technologies for new ceramic brakes; biodiesel suppliers; and lithium-battery manufacturers.

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