Driving green not such a chore after all
The need to find a new source of automotive fuel is reaching the critical point. The problem, thus far, is that there has not been a clear leader in the race to replace fossil-based fuels – specifically, that the shift to the environmentally friendly side of the road is at loggerheads with the marketability of many of the solutions. For example, fuel cell-powered vehicles satisfy society’s desire for green transportation, but the cost of the technology and the need to build a refuelling infrastructure is off the chart.
The hybrid is the interim solution. The use of an electric motor, and the power it delivers, allows the gasoline side of the powertrain to be downsized, which reduces its thirst for fuel without destroying the driving pleasure.
To illustrate the point, Honda organized the Insight Eco-Challenge. This media challenge pitted Team Fletcher from the National Post against teams from Sun Media, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, CanadianDriver.com and MSN Autos.
The environmentally themed rally was split into a number of exercises. The first task was to visit four of five eco-venues in the Ottawa area. Each team had to select its venues and plan the driving route. Mercifully, the Insight’s navigation system allowed Team Fletcher (Yours Truly and wife, DD) to avoid that age-old “will you stop and ask for DIRECTIONS!” spat.
Along the way, we had to complete a photo contest. There were 10 points for getting four complete strangers to sit in the car and another 10 for snapping the Insight in a picturesque setting. Eleven other photos were required – one representing each of the letters in Insight as well as four green-themed snaps.
Team Fletcher’s first stop was Ferme Camino Farm, an alpaca ranch in Limoge.
The alpaca’s advantage, aside from the fact it is as cute as a button with beautiful eyes, is that it doesn’t eat as much as sheep, and the allergen-free wool produced is warmer than regular wool. This leg involved the longest highway run, which put somewhat of a crimp in our early quest for fuel economy – hybrids do their best work when purring about town.
Nonetheless, we managed an average 4.8 litres per 100 kilometres.
The next stop was the New York Central Trail in Russell. The park is a peaceful haven that’s home to the last vestiges of the now-defunct New York Central railway. It was here we found four unwitting Insight volunteers – three young girls pedaling little trikes and their mother. After my wife explained what we were up to, the triplets hopped into the Insight and posed with mom.