The 2015 Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) EcoRun wrapped up last week, taking place for the second year in a row in Beautiful British Columbia. The annual event — encompassing fuel-efficient vehicles of all classes from efficient gasoline-powered luxury crossovers to small hatchbacks powered by pure electricity — featured stops in the Lower Mainland, and for the first time, Vancouver Island.
The purpose of the EcoRun is to inform customers of all the green options available to them in the automotive marketplace, and demonstrate techniques for driving in a manner that saves money and is better for the environment.
“The AJAC EcoRun shows how fuel efficient a group of professional drivers can be when they really try. But fuel savings are within reach for everyone if they follow some simple tips: avoid jackrabbit starts and hard braking; plan trips in advance; don’t idle; keep your tires properly inflated and service your vehicle properly; remove excess weight; reduce highway speed and use a block heater when it’s cold,” says Ian Jack, CAA National managing director of communications and government relations.
Starting with a rainy-day press conference at Jack Poole Plaza in Coal Harbour, 20 journalists took turns piloting models from 13 different manufacturers, including the brand new Hyundai Tucson FCEV hydrogen compact SUV. Each participating vehicle (except for the Tucson at the request of manufacturer) was outfitted with a proprietary data logger from fleet monitoring equipment specialist FleetCarma, which precisely measured fuel economy throughout several established routes.
After making our way to the BC Ferries Horseshoe Bay Terminal in West Vancouver, six legs of driving were evaluated: from Nanaimo to Duncan, Duncan to Langord, Langford to Victoria, Victoria to Swartz Bay, Tsawwassen to Steveston, and Steveston back to Vancouver. There was also an unlogged portion of the trip at Western Speedway, where a small slalom course was set up in the parking lot to prove that eco-friendliness and performance don’t have to necessarily be mutually exclusive.
The EcoRun coincided with an announcement, outside the front steps of the Parliament Buildings in Victoria, that a new rebate program for clean energy vehicles is returning to the province following a one-year hiatus. B.C. residents purchasing some form of an electric vehicle after April 1 are eligible to receive up to $5,000 off the pre-tax sticker price, and up to $6,000 off if the vehicle is of the hydrogen variety.
Here are the specifications on a few of the cars driven during the event, including average fuel efficiency achieved:
2016 Mazda CX-5
Launched only four years ago, the Mazda CX-5 crossover has already undergone several improvements — the most recent update sees improvements to the suspension and real-world fuel economy.
Price (as tested): $36,995
Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder SKYACTIV-G gasoline engine
Torque (lb-ft): 185
Drivetrain: front-wheel drive
Measured fuel economy: 7.86 L/100 km (combined city/highway)
2015 Infiniti Q50 Hybrid
Possessing one of the fastest accelerating engines available and the world’s first Direct Adaptive Steering technology, the Infiniti Q50 Hybrid puts just as much emphasis on sport as it does efficiency.
Price (as tested): Not listed
Engine: 3.5 L V6 VQ35 gasoline engine/advanced electric motor
Horsepower: 360 (net)
Torque (lb-ft): 258
Drivetrain: all-wheel drive
Measured fuel economy: 7.5 L/100 km (combined city/highway)
2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI Clean Diesel
One of the most fuel-thrifty entrants was the current-generation VW Golf TDI. This World Car of the Year recipient boasts the most powerful diesel engine Volkswagen has ever made.
Price (as tested): $34,590
Engine: 2.0 L four-cylinder turbodiesel engine
Torque (lb-ft): 236
Drivetrain: front-wheel drive
Measured fuel economy: 5.1 L/100 km (combined city/highway)
“One of the great things about the AJAC EcoRun is it demonstrates that saving money on fuel – and helping save the environment – is within reach for anyone. You don’t have to buy an electric vehicle or a hybrid, although there’s nothing wrong with that – you just have to follow some simple tips,” says Jack.