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