While discussing the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada’s annual EcoRun event, my print editor has been known to say “There is no winner, so what is the point?” In his eyes, any sort of event where vehicles are being driven and compared on some level, should have a clear winner.
That is not the point of EcoRun. The point of EcoRun is to get out on the road and show that a vehicle can be green in many ways and that it isn’t just electric vehicles that populate the “green car” segment of the market. 21 journalists drove a fleet of 20 vehicles, from 13 manufacturers, that ranged from pure electric vehicles to plug-in hybrids and right on up to gasoline fueled pickup trucks.
That is not to say that there isn’t a competitive element to the event. Using equipment supplied by Fleetcarma, driver’s motoring habits were monitored to measure just how “green” they are.
Regular readers know that I am not in any way a proponent of the green car movement. That is not to say that I don’t believe that vehicles should be more efficient, rather than I believe that we are going to wrong direction with hybrids and electric vehicles. The industry, media and governments have brainwashed the consumer into believing that green equals one of those two options. More on this topic in a future story. To balance off my own negativity, I brought along an unlikely co-pilot: My Dad, Bud Tucker.
Why is my old man an unlikely navigator? Well, to be truthful, he doesn’t really fit the profile of one who is into the whole green car thing. 78 years old now, Bud was the 1967 Ontario Sports car racing champion, which led to a test at Monza in a Cooper Maserati Formula 1 car. That one was featured on the cover of the Toronto Telegram. After that, he stepped up a couple of rungs on the ladder and in 1969 he raced a big block powered AMX. Real muscle.
These days, Bud is the shuttle driver at Morrey Nissan in B.C. and until recently, his shuttle was a Nissan Leaf. The experience with the all electric Leaf has turned this old racer into a passionate advocate for electric vehicles.
Our trek began at the Vancouver International Auto Show, in the courtyard beside the city’s Olympic torch. We drove a hot, red Volkswagen Golf TDi through the rain to the Vancouver ferry terminal at Horseshoe Bay, on our way to the city of Victoria on Vancouver Island. I was simply blown away by the size of the ferry, complete with a huge cafeteria style restaurant, gift shops and lots of comfortable space to hang out. It even has an arcade to keep the kids occupied.
On the first night, the group piled into a big yellow school bus for the ride over to Church and State Winery for dinner. While it was the first ride on a school bus in years for most of us, I was blown away to learn that my old man had NEVER ridden in one! I’m sure it wasn’t the highlight of his trip, but it is something one must experience at some point in their life!
The rain left us for day two, as we invaded the front steps of the B.C. Parliament buildings before setting out on foot to explore the waterfront. From there, we headed back to the terminal, where we boarded the 167.5 m Spirit of British Columbia for the ride back. This monster is capable of carrying 410 vehicles, including 34 tractor trailers. Without the rain and fog, the view along the ride was simply spectacular.
Our day finished with a visit to the historic seaside town of Steveston, which was originally known as a salmon canning town. These days, it has a thriving tourist industry and is the set of the popular Once Upon a Time television series.
Back to the competitive part of EcoRun. Many journalists strive to win the coveted “green jersey”, and make a point of driving as if they were trying not to spill an overfilled coffee on themselves. I on the other hand believe that travelling at 80% of the speed limit is not only unsafe, but does little more than annoy other drivers. It is also an unrealistic test of vehicles.
In the real world, few drivers embrace real green driving techniques fanatically. Don’t believe me? How many times have you been passed by a Prius that is doing 140?
Instead, I drive normally. I relish the thought of seeing just how “green” my normal driving style is. It turns out that I am actually pretty good. If you have a look at the summary below, provided by Fleetcarma, I scored 75.2 on the green driving scale, which really is pretty good considering it was up against some very good drivers who were trying to do their best eco driving. Interestingly, on the first two legs of each day, my scores were right up there with the top third of the pack. At the end of the day, when I was tired and just wanted to get back to the hotel, my scores were much, much lower. It just goes to show you that your driving performance really is affected by your mood.
That doesn’t mean that Driven Wheels came out as losers in the green driving wars. Quite the contrary in fact, as Driven Wheels contributor Chris Chase beat out last year’s winner Jim Kenzie to take the green jersey. Ok, so it is a green tee shirt, but you get the idea.
The folks from Fleetcarma assembled a fantastic overview of the event that details not only the route, but details about how the vehicles performed during the event.