AJAC Ecorun's Toronto to Ot­tawa mass green car test high­lights ef­fi­cient driv­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties

Ignition - - 1st Gear -

The mass group test­ing of 27 ve­hi­cles by auto jour­nal­ists or­ga­nized over two days worth of driv­ing high­lighted two very clear con­clu­sions: one, it is very pos­si­ble to drive more ef­fi­ciently than even Cana­dian gov­ern­ment fuel econ­omy num­bers, if you're will­ing to drive su­per care­fully.

And two, when it comes next level zero emis­sions ve­hi­cles – both bat­tery elec­tric and fuel cell ve­hi­cles – the in­fra­struc­ture is sorely lack­ing in On­tario for the for­mer, and lit­er­ally nonex­is­tent for the lat­ter.

The good news: the ob­served num­bers are in­cred­i­bly lower than their of­fi­cial av­er­ages, with driv­ers beat­ing the Nat­u­ral Re­source Canada num­bers by an av­er­age of 33 per cent. This can be at­trib­uted partly to the more re­al­is­tic num­bers im­ple­mented by Nat­u­ral Re­sources Canada a cou­ple years ago, but also to the com­pet­i­tive na­ture of auto scribes, who were chas­ing a `green jersey' award for most ef­fi­cient driv­ing pos­si­ble (and yes, there were some un­char­ac­ter­is­tic warn­ings for typ­i­cally speed-ad­dicted track en­thu­si­asts to ac­tu­ally speed up).

Over a fairly split up city/high­way route from Toronto to Ot­tawa over two full days, the most ef­fi­cient ve­hi­cle was the all-elec­tric Nis­san Leaf, at an ob­served 1.5 litres-equiv­a­lent per 100 kilo­me­tres, fol­lowed closely by the plug-in Chevro­let Volt (ob­served 1.8 Le/ 100km), and the Toy­ota Prius hy­brid (3.2 L/ 100km ob­served), if you don't count the Toy­ota Mi­ral fuel cell that needed two Mirai ex­am­ples to make it to Ot­tawa, thanks to the barely there fuel cell in­fra­struc­ture.

The com­plete list of 27 ve­hi­cles there and their of­fi­cial plus ob­served num­bers are avail­able at www.ajac. ca/eco-run, and it's an in­ter­est­ing ex­er­cise to eas­ily see how cars like these com­pare to big­ger sell­ers like the Subaru Im­preza and Honda Civic, or high-end cars like the 2017 Porsche 911 Car­rera and Mercedes-benz S550e plug-in hy­brid.

One of the rea­sons Ecorun took two days to cover what is usu­ally an af­ter­noon's worth of driv­ing is that ve­hi­cles like the Leaf and most nonTesla BEVS have a range of roughly 120 km be­fore need­ing a full recharge. But with rel­a­tively few elec­tric ve­hi­cle charg­ers out­side the GTA and Ot­tawa, the full electrics needed mul­ti­ple ex­tended fu­el­ing stops. The On­tario gov­ern­ment an­nounced this sum­mer that they will fund $20 mil­lion to­wards such charg­ers, with plans to pro­vide roughly 300 Level 2 (220V) charg­ers and 200 of the Level 3 (440V) charg­ers by the end of March 2017.

This will set up a fas­ci­nat­ing Ecorun for 2017, if the event takes place in On­tario again, which could be a valu­able test of this new EV in­fra­struc­ture.

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