The Future of Driving, Right in Our Parking Lot

Sep 24th, 2014 | By Jeremy Kranowitz

Part of Sustainable America’s mission is to help reduce our country’s oil consumption by 50% over the next two decades, and one of the ways we will get there is by adopting alternatives to traditional gasoline engines. For a nation of people who are used to driving gas-fueled cars, change can come slowly, but getting them behind the wheels of alternative-fuel vehicles is the first step toward getting them to consider buying one.

That’s the idea behind last week’s National Drive Electric Week, a nationwide series of events designed to raise awareness about electric cars. Last Thursday, in honor of the week, we held a “Cars and Cocktails” event at our offices in Stamford, Conn., with support from BMW of Greenwich and New Country Porsche of Greenwich.

BMW i8 at Sustainable America's Cars and Cocktails event

BMW brought both its i3 and the very exciting i8, which is a gas-electric hybrid featured in the movie Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol with Tom Cruise. It can go from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds and is in such high demand that our local BMW dealers can’t keep them in stock.

The all-electric i3 is also impressive and made with sustainable materials. For example, the door panels are made out of kenaf, an annual plant that looks like bamboo and grows 5 to 10 feet tall in a year. Also, 25% of the plastics in the car are sourced from recycled materials.

Porsche brought its Panamera S E-Hybrid, which is actually faster and more fuel-efficient than its gasoline-only Panamera. The car can drive the first 15 miles all electric at speeds up to 83 mph and can achieve 0-60 in just over 5 seconds. Using the gasoline engine, the car can go up to 167 mph. (That would only be on a test track, of course – sometimes we feel lucky to go 16 mph on I-95 here in Connecticut!)

Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell SUV

Hyundai also brought its Tucson Fuel Cell SUV to our offices for display. The car has a very rigid spherical fuel tank in the back to hold the hydrogen fuel, and the great thing about fuel cell vehicles is that the exhaust is pure water. Many people wonder about the safety of hydrogen, but in fact it is a much safer fuel than gasoline. The main issue is that there is only one publicly available hydrogen station in Connecticut – most of the stations are clustered in California, with over 100 stations built or planned. Despite that, Hyundai and Toyota are making major bets that hydrogen fuel cells will be as available and compelling as electric cars in the next few years.

Sustainable America's Ford C-Max Energi

We also welcomed guests from the Westport Electric Car Club, which brought a Mitsubishi i-MiEV, one of the least expensive electric cars available, at less than $23,000. Sustainable America showcased its Ford C-Max Energi, and its hybrid cargo van made by XL Hybrids, which has a system that boosts fuel efficiency by 20 percent. Our Chairman, Nick Tiller, brought his Tesla Model S for folks to test drive.

Inside our office, we had a Fisker Karma on display. The exciting news about Fisker is that it will be reintroduced next year by its new owner, Wanxiang America, which has worked to fix some of the bugs that plagued the original version of the car.

These are some of the most exciting cars to drive today. And some, like the Ford and the Mitsubishi, are available right now at prices that won’t bust anyone’s checkbook. If you have been considering a new car, we strongly recommend that you check out some electric cars as part of your test drives.

If you would like to help Sustainable America conduct a similar event in your town, please let us know, and please consider a donation to help us make this vision a reality.

Jeremy Kranowitz
Executive Director

For more information about the event, check out this video coverage from It’s Relevant.

Tagged: electric cars, fuel cell cars, Jeremy Kranowitz, alternative fuels, fuel, electric vehicles, ford, events, Ford C-Max Energi, Fisker, Porsche, Tesla, Hyundai, National Drive Electric Week, Sustainable America events, BMW, Mitsubishi, Alt Fuels

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