by Douglas Black, enerficiency On The Road
What a difference a decade makes. I recently had the opportunity to participate in a road rally. Now this particular rally commemorated the very first car race in America, some 115 years ago. The run was a scenic route along the shore of Lake Michigan from Chicago to Evanston, Illinois.
The 1800s race was staged to demonstrate the viability of the automobile verses the horse drawn wagon as a means for livery. This new-fangled four wheeled contraption was having a difficult time convincing delivery drivers that their horse was a thing of the past.
History has proved the auto a winner. And the winner of the first race was an electric vehicle. It beat the petrol powered rivals and hay eaters by a nose.
Ten years ago I launched my own version of the Great Race, called GLEEM2003 (Great Lakes Energy Efficient MotorRally). There were only a few production vehicles available, and Toyota graciously allowed me to borrow a newly introduced Prius v 1.0 for a week.
Having created a curriculum for middle school students explaining the math, science, and social studies relevance of alternative fuel vehicles, I took a road trip to 37 schools around Michigan along with my then 7th grade son Vince. He was my ringer. Just in case the kids did not want to pay attention, my sons Leo DiCaprio good looks got all the girls attention.
We wrapped it up with a caravan of invited electric and hybrid vehicles, embedded with press, from the Earth Day celebration in East Lansing to the State Capital of Michigan. There were Honda Insights, GM EVs and a Prius or two besides ours, as well as a very strange self built contraption.
Fast forward to last week, and there were 15 different vehicles from 10 manufacturers, including trucks. Many of them were displayed at the Chicago Auto Show ( #CAS13 ) which was wrapping up that day. I was again in a Toyota. This time a Prius PlugIn Hybrid. I didn’t win, of course. Wasn’t trying to. In fact I stopped off at my favorite coffee shop, Panera Cares, for a pit stop.
And I did not pay a bit of attention to the gas mileage or battery charge or any of that. Why? Because it didn’t matter, I had enough. The bigger issue was using the onboard connectivity to get directions – the handwritten route was wack. Thank you Toyota and your on board navigation system!
In a hundred years there will be no petroleum powered vehicles on the road. This is the shape of things to come.
About Douglas Black
Douglas Black is a photojournalist and
green technologies analyst out of Chicago,
and is currently Managing Producer for
Earlier Douglas promoted greentech in Detroit as
Senior Marketing Strategist and Architect.
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