Tech Talk: Eco-Run showcases fuel-efficient alternatives
Gerry Malloy
With gasoline prices at near-record highs, fuel-efficiency is top-of-mind for many car-buyers these days. Fortunately, they have a wide range of fuel-efficient alternatives from which to choose to satisfy their individual driving needs.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the fuel-economy challenge. What may be best for one buyer’s set of needs may be wholly unsuitable for another’s.
Rather, there is a shotgun blast of technologies, some of which work together, others that stand alone, but all of which can help you reduce your fuel consumption. And most of them are available in some form today.
That’s the primary message of the Eco-Run, going from Brighton to London, Ont. from May 8-10.
The Eco-Run, organized by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), in partnership with Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), and Schneider Electric is billed as a fuel-efficiency demonstration “bringing fuel-efficient technologies to your community.”
In effect, it is a mobile auto show, highlighting the broad range of fuel-efficient technology choices available — everything from advanced gasoline and diesel-engine technologies to hybrids and electric vehicles.
In fact, most of the vehicles and technologies featured in the Eco-Drive exhibit at the 2012 Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto will also be participating in the Eco-Run.
In total, 23 cars are scheduled to take part — including the Porsche Panamera Hybrid, Mitsubishi iMiev and the Ford Focus Electric — driven by AJAC-member journalists, including several Wheels contributors.
As the name implies, the rally-type excursion begins in Brighton, about 150 km east of Toronto, and ends in London, about 190 km west of Toronto.
The event’s concept is based loosely the U.K.’s historic London-to-Brighton run for vintage cars, and a more recent Brighton-to-London reverse run for “green” cars, held in that country.
The vehicles will not be competing with each other but energy usage will be monitored and reported by NRCan to demonstrate the fuel efficiencies attainable with the various technologies in real-world operation.
The journalist drivers, however, (none of whom are the least bit competitive) will be challenged to meet or beat the official NRCan fuel-consumption ratings for the individual vehicles they are driving, demonstrating that driving style can be as important as technology.
The entourage will make stops en-route in Cobourg, Oshawa, Scarborough, Toronto, Oakville, Hamilton and Woodstock and will visit several sites making their own contributions to the science and technology of fuel efficiency.
In Oshawa, the convoy pulls into the University of Ontario Institute of Technology’s Automotive Centre of Excellence (ACE). Among the ACE’s research and development facilities is one of the world’s most advanced climatic wind tunnels, which is capable of simulating conditions from desert drought to Arctic blizzard, as well as advanced battery-testing facilities.
It will make an overnight stop in Scarborough at Centennial College’s School of Transportation and visit its science facility for training technicians to service the complex technologies involved in today’s and tomorrow’s vehicles.
Its curriculum includes courses in alternative fuels, such as natural gas and propane- specialized training in hybrid systems maintenance.
Closer to downtown, the tour will visit the Evergreen Brick Works, Canada’s first large-scale community environmental centre, which was named by National Geographic as one of the world’s top 10 geotourism destinations.
Beginning in July, the Evergreen Brick Works will be hosting “MOVE: The Transportation Expo,” opening July 2012. It will guide visitors through the past, present and future of transportation, addressing key issues facing Toronto and cities around the world.
On to Hamilton, where the convoy will make its second overnight stop at McMaster University, home of MacAUTO, an umbrella for automotive-related research among the university’s many disciplines. Its objectives are to help develop the “car of the future,” along with other potentially game-changing electric vehicles.
MacAUTO will have a new home, in the form of the 80,000 sq-ft. McMaster Automotive Resource Centre (MARC), set for completion in early 2013.
The Eco-Run ends at Fanshawe College in London, where the Centre for Applied Transportation Technologies (CATT) is a model of sustainable construction.
The facility has been built to ambitious environmental standards and includes a variety of green innovations such as a vegetated green-roof system over the shop areas and solar-powered GPS-tracking skylights for natural day lighting in the auto shop.
To learn more about the Eco-Run, its cars and drivers, and find out when you can see the vehicles at one of the tour’s stops, visit And check the blog for information about the tour as it progresses.


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