2014 AJAC Eco Run: The Ups and Downs of Going Green in BC car test drives green scene auto articles auto tech
2014 AJAC Eco Run: The Ups and Downs of Going Green in BC car test drives green scene auto articles auto tech
2014 AJAC Eco-Run. Click image to enlarge

Article and photos by Steven Bochenek

Vancouver seemed the obvious choice for the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) to launch its third annual Eco-Run last week. You’re probably thinking, I know Vancouver — but what is Eco-Run?

It’s two things, really.

First, it’s a rolling showcase of 19 purportedly green vehicles, driven over three days by 19 select AJAC writers. Each car features some fuel-efficient technology. This year, there were electric vehicles (EVs), hybrids, diesels and some exceptional naturally aspirated engines. The purpose of this green parade is to show consumers you have a choice in how big your carbon footprint is next time you purchase a vehicle.

But most of us aren’t buying a car right now. So Eco-Run is also a competitive demonstration of fuel-efficient driving by us writers.

During the six legs of the tour through British Columbia’s scenic Sea-to-Sky Corridor, our driving techniques were measured by data-gathering ‘loggers’ designed by computer engineers at MyCarma. They tracked acceleration, braking, speed, turns and so on, all of which affect fuel consumption.

To level the driving field, realities like engine size, or utter lack of gasoline engine, were factored in. Otherwise we’d be comparing apples and orange juice.

The most efficient driver of the week wins the vaunted ‘Green Jersey’, a tradition dating back hundreds of days to last May.

2014 AJAC Eco Run: The Ups and Downs of Going Green in BC car test drives green scene auto articles auto tech 2014 AJAC Eco Run: The Ups and Downs of Going Green in BC car test drives green scene auto articles auto tech
2014 AJAC Eco-Run, (left) Volvo S60 Drive-E. Click image to enlarge

The cars & their numbers

Not all green auto tech is equal and, until recently, not much was very fun to drive. In previous Eco-Runs, some participants would bag the keys to the most luxurious and sportiest vehicles, then disappear. So this year, before each leg, the Eco-Run coordinator alphabetically assigned the cars below to names arbitrarily drawn from a basket. (If a writer had already driven the selection, their name went back in.)

This list includes all the 2014 Eco-Run vehicles, plus their average fuel consumption numbers throughout the six legs (treated to MyCarma’s fair-play algorithm) and as-driven or entry-level prices.

NB: The overwhelming majority of our driving was on highways. Precipitous BC highways. So EnerGuide numbers wouldn’t necessarily match road conditions. Bold italics indicate a vehicle that beat its published highway fuel economy stats. Boldface means it came within 10 percent.

2014 AJAC Eco Run: The Ups and Downs of Going Green in BC car test drives green scene auto articles auto tech
2014 AJAC Eco Run: The Ups and Downs of Going Green in BC car test drives green scene auto articles auto tech
2014 AJAC Eco Run: The Ups and Downs of Going Green in BC car test drives green scene auto articles auto tech
Cadillac ELR, Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, RAM 1500 EcoDiesel. Click image to enlarge

Cadillac ELR — 4.65 L/100km; from $78,250

Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Clean Diesel — 5.69 L/100 km; from $25,045

Ford C-MAX Energi — 4.41L/100 km; $42,864

Honda Accord Hybrid — 4.63 L/100 km; $35,690

Hyundai Elantra — 6.16 L/100 km; $25,649

Kia Optima Hybrid — 6.07 L/100 km; $36,195

Lincoln MKZ Hybrid — 5.07 L/100 km; $50,350

Mazda3 SKYACTIV — 5.67L/100 km; $21,395

Mazda6 i-ELOOP — 6.57 L/100 km; $35,295

Mercedes-Benz ­E 250 BlueTEC 4MATIC — 6.07 L/100 km; $61,300

Mercedes-Benz ­GL 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC — 8.89 L/100 km; $89,380

MINI Cooper — 5.44 L/100 km; $25,740

Mitsubishi i-MiEV EV ­­— 1.32 L/100 km; $33,998

Nissan Altima — 6.94 L/100 km; $29,128

Nissan Leaf EV — 1.6 L/100 km; from $31,698

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid — 5.6 L/100 km; $126,635

Ram 1500 EcoDiesel — 8.94 L/100 km; $70,090

Volvo S60 Drive-E T5 FWD — 6.81 L/100 km; $51,050

You’ll note the Porsche smashed its EnerGuide fuel ratings. Hooray. However, given its other number, it won’t be selling enough to save the world anytime soon. Plus, efficient driving means being light on the pedal, braking hard only in emergencies, and so on. Good luck with that.

Below is what I was assigned for the six legs.  Uniquely on Day 2 of Eco-Run, only the first and last 40 km were tabulated into the competition. That’s because we shared and tested vehicles on a skid pad and dynamics course at Pemberton’s airport in the late morning. Then after lunch, we were offered several scenic drives to choose from. I got (won — it was a draw after all) the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid that afternoon. Once Big Brother wasn’t watching, its winning numbers above rocketed up.

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