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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

City Hall Plaza Goes Green for 5th Annual AltWheels Festival

The largest alternative energy and transportation festival on the east coast was held this past weekend at Boston’s City Hall Plaza. AltWheels, a two-day festival that showcases the latest in transportation and energy solutions, celebrated its fifth anniversary with a lineup of more than 70 different fuel-efficient vehicles and several prototype fuel-cell and hybrid-electric cars on display.

With oil prices climbing upwards the issues of increasing fuel efficiency and finding alternatives to fossil fuels is becoming more important both politically and economically. Several major auto manufactures including Chevrolet, Volkswagen, Toyota, and Ford sponsored the event that organizers hope will lead to advancements that will reduce congestion, decrease dependence on foreign oil, and cut greenhouse-gas emissions. The vehicles on display ranged from current fuel efficient hybrid models, such as the Toyota Prius, to million-dollar fuel-cell and hybrid-electric prototypes. Ford’s Hydrogen Group showcased it’s concept Ford Edge with HySeries Drive, a battery powered plug-in hybrid with a hydrogen fuel cell. Ford bills the potentially industry-altering vehicle as the world’s first drivable fuel cell hybrid electric with plug-in capability and lists its fuel efficiency between 41 and 80 mpg with zero emissions.

The event, free to one and all, drew more than 20,000 attendees in 2006 and City Hall Plaza was again flooded by thousands upon thousands of visitors this year, from the environmentally conscious to the simply curious, all gathered to see the latest in alternative transportation.

The festival did not only focus on reducing greenhouse gas emission from vehicles however. The event has grown over the years to include exhibits on renewable energy and energy efficiency in the home and workplace as well. The Energy Freedom Trail, a strip of 30 educational and activity booths, was one of the biggest draws at this years festival, weaving its way across the plaza with spots where visitors were educated on ways to reduce their negative impact on the environment through over consumption of resources. The highlights included a chance to see how biodiesel is made, tips on living a sustainable lifestyle and a booth where visitors could calculate how much carbon their lifestyle generates and how it compares to other cultures from around the world. The trail also offered some simple steps on ways you can reduce your own greenhouse-gas emissions by replacing light bulbs with florescent bulbs or installing high efficiency water heaters or putting solar panels on your home to produce your own electricity.

? Unplug cell phone and other chargers when you’re not using them, these devices can still use power even when you’re cell phone isn’t charging.

? Use a power strip that can be turned off for you television, DVD players stereos, or any device that uses a remote. These devices still draw even when they appear to be off, their standby mode can use as much electricity as leaving on a 100 watt light bulb.

? Now that winter is on the way start setting thermostats to 55 when you go to bed or will be out of the house for the day.

? Avoid rapid acceleration and frequent braking when driving as this wastes gas by up to 33%. Accelerate smoothly and use cruise control whenever possible on the highway.

? Don’t speed as your mileage takes a serious hit at speeds above 60 mph. The Department of Energy says that every 5 mph you drive over 60 is equivalent to paying an extra $.20 per gallon of gasoline. Again use cruise control to for best effect.

Ford’s gains an Edge in the hybrid electric market

The Ford Edge was on display at Altwheels over the weekend and turned heads with its promise of fuel efficiency of up to 80 mpg. Yes that’s right, an SUV that can get 80 mpg. Now before you get too excited let me explain how it works, and why most drivers will likely be getting roughly half that.

The vehicle utilizes Ford’s highly touted HySeries Drive, a new technology that operates using a combination fuel cell and gasoline or diesel engine along with an electric generator. The result is a vehicle that can deliver 41 mpg with zero vehicle emissions.

The reason for the fluctuation in gas mileage is because the mileage depends on the distance traveled. The car is plugged in to any standard home outlet that charges the battery pack which the car runs off of. The first 25 miles driven each day runs entirely off of this battery pack, after that point the fuel cell begins to operate to keep the battery pack charged. A driver who traveled less than 50 miles a day would see their fuel efficiency surpass 80 mpg according to Ford.