Last year, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) conducted its first Eco-Run to highlight to consumers the merits of the broad range of fuel-efficient technologies available on today's vehicles, as well as the benefits of driving in a fuel-efficient manner.
Next week, AJAC's second annual Eco-Run will kick off at Parliament Hill in Ottawa and proceed to Montreal, with various stops en route.
Fuel- or energy-consumption on each vehicle will be measured and recorded for each leg of the journey by representatives of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). Using sophisticated instrumentation, they'll also be able to evaluate each driver's driving style and assess its effect on fuel consumption.
Taking a page from the Tour de France, a Green Jersey will be presented to the most fuel-efficient driver each day.
What can consumers expect to learn from this exercise?
First, that there are a whole range of different technologies on today's vehicles that can help drivers reduce their fuel or energy consumption.
Second, that all those technologies, aren't equal. Different technologies, and even different approaches to similar technologies, such as hybrids, may perform better in some conditions than in others.
It's a case of 'horses for courses' and knowing what works best in your primary driving conditions can help you choose the most efficient vehicle for your own use.
Third, that driving style may be as important as technology when it comes to saving fuel. Maybe even more important.
One of the surprises at last year's Eco-Run was that, contrary to public opinion, the official fuel-consumption figures reported by NRCan and advertised by auto makers really are achievable in real-world driving.
Every vehicle in the event achieved its official advertised rating on at least one or more driving stages. And on some stages, as many as 80% of the vehicle/driver combinations achieved that goal.
Other key findings were the deleterious influences of stop-and-go traffic conditions – more so with some technologies than with others – and of weather conditions such as rain.
The vehicles taking part in the 2013 AJAC Eco-Run are:
- Chevrolet Cruze Diesel
- Chevrolet Volt (Plug-in Hybrid)
- Ford Focus EV (Battery Electric Vehicle)
- Ford Fusion Energi (Plug-in Hybrid)
- Ford C-Max Energi (Plug-in Hybrid)
- Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid
- Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
- Infiniti M35 Hybrid
- Lexus ES 300h (Hybrid)
- Mazda3 (Skyactiv technology)
- Mazda6 (Skyactiv technology)
- Mazda CX-5 (Skyactiv technology)
- Mercedes-Benz B 250 (Advanced Conventional Technology)
- Mercedes-Benz GLK 250 BlueTEC (Diesel)
- Mitsubishi I-MiEV (Battery Electric Vehicle)
- Porsche Cayenne Diesel
- Ram 1500 HFE (Advanced Conventional Technology)
- Smart fortwo electric drive
- Toyota Prius v (Hybrid)
- Volkswagen Jetta Turbo Hybrid
We'll be reporting on the results of this year's Eco-Run and what they prove as the event progresses.