“The EcoRun is an event that shows off a variety of eco-friendly vehicles, which include pure electrics, plug-in and conventional hybrids, hydrogen fuel cells, diesel-fuelled powertrains and highly efficient gasoline options.”
The rain is relentless and it’s cold.
But the miserable liquid sunshine couldn’t dampen the spirits of the group of nationwide journalists, who gathered at the Jack Pool Plaza at the Vancouver Convention Centre to kick off the 2015 Automobile Journalists Association of Canada’s (AJAC) annual EcoRun.
The EcoRun is an event that shows off a variety of eco-friendly vehicles, which include pure electrics, plug-in and conventional hybrids, hydrogen fuel cells, diesel-fuelled powertrains and highly efficient gasoline options. Its purpose is to help inform consumers of these alternative options, as well as providing accurate road testing fuel economy numbers.
There’s no size limit on the vehicle either. Heck, we had a Ford F-150 in the pack, along with the midsize Chevrolet Colorado. The objective was to test a variety of vehicles – regardless of shape or size – and show that you don’t have to buy an all-electric vehicle to be eco conscious.
But speaking of all-electric vehicles, the Nissan LEAF was the first of six vehicles I’d drive over the two-day test drive. This year, we ventured onto Vancouver Island through Horseshoe Bay, Nanaimo, Duncan, and Victoria and back through Tsawwassen.
With a full charge on the LEAF’s battery, I wasn’t having any range anxiety.
The trip to the ferry, and then to our first stop totalled a little more than 70 kilometres.
I started with 143 km on my “tank” and ended up with 63km.
As for real world figures, I used up about 80 km of range for a 70.1km trip. I did have the heated steering wheel and seat on, and had the heating on as well because, as I mentioned, it wasn’t warm! And there were a few hills on the way; all of which would deplete the battery more quickly.
Our first stop on the Island was at the Cowichan Regional Visitors Centre in Duncan. If you’re looking for things to do in the area, this is the place where you’ll get lots of great ideas. For example, those who love cheese will find that The Creamery at Cheese Pointe Farm has some incredibly delicious offerings. Or those who want some candied salmon look no further than Mad Dog Crabs. And as a tea lover, TeaFarm, which is Canada’s only tea farm and offers multiple blends of flavourful creations. I could have stayed all day but duty called.
From there, our journey took us to Western Speedway in Victoria for a dynamic handling course.
That part of EcoRun was compliments of the Chevrolet Colorado. The front-wheel drive truck with a six-speed manual transmission did the job and did it well. From the speedway, our drive took us into downtown Victoria and the VW Golf TDI was my fiery chariot.
The next day’s activities would also keep us busy, with a press conference at the BC Legislature, then to Swartz Bay, through Steveston, BC for a fascinating tour of its history, and then finally back home.
I’d have the opportunity to test the Ford Focus with the 1.0L engine, the Jeep Grand Cherokee with the EcoDiesel, and to finish up the day in style, I’d have the Acura RLX Sport Hybrid.
While the AJAC EcoRun wasn’t about crowning winners and losers – although, we were all vying for the coveted Green Jersey award at the end for most efficient driver – the real winners are the consumers.
Not everyone is able to find a place in their home for an electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, but there are gasoline and diesel-powered options that can easily fit into your lifestyle, no matter what kind of driving you do.
For a full list of participating vehicles, and to see photos and data, visit www.ajac.ca and click on the EcoRun tab.