Tour de Sol Rolls Through the East Coast

Organizers of the 15th annual Tour de Sol: The Great American Green Transportation Festival were shooting for a big change. Their aim was to change the way Americans choose to get around so as to reduce the nation’s reliance on oil and improve national security.

Greenfield, Massachusetts – May 16, 2003 [] The Tour de Sol, which took place from May 12 -14 in New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., showcased advanced and domestically fueled vehicles through a series of festivals and competitive events. Vehicles competed – not for speed – but for practicality, greater fuel economy, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Some entries and exhibits came from major auto and bus manufacturers such as General Motors, Toyota, DaimlerChrysler, Honda, and Allison Transmission. “Choosing green transportation alternatives is the most significant way Americans can reduce oil use,” said Nancy Hazard, director of the Tour. “The Tour de Sol is all about transportation choices. We think that when people understand that transportation uses two-thirds of all the oil used in the United States, they may consider making different choices than they have in the past. The good news is that there are many fun and exciting options that can also improve the economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” The majority of the entries, however, came from colleges and high schools from across the country, green car owners and battery manufacturers. More than 30 entries showcased gas-sipping hybrids or vehicles that use natural gas, propane, or domestically produced fuels such as biodiesel, ethanol, or electricity. In addition to the vehicles that competed in the event, exhibits, unique to each festival, showcased prototype vehicles such as GM’s Hy-wire, the first drivable concept vehicle that combines a hydrogen fuel cell with by-wire technology, electric bicycles, green buses, electric neighborhood vehicles, and local programs that promote bicycling, carpooling, and walking. New fuels and advanced technologies can deliver many quality of life advantages such as increased security, a more robust economy, and a healthier environment. Gas-electric hybrids use 20-50 percent less gasoline than a conventional car. Other fuels reduce oil use by 96-99 percent and greenhouse gases by 15 to 77 percent. Mass transit and carpooling also reduce oil use by 40-90 percent, while walking and biking reduce it by 100 percent. New electric bikes and neighborhood cars also offer new fun ways of getting around. “The student teams, in particular, provide us with great hope for the future,” said Warren Leon, executive director of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, organizer of the Tour. “Each year they bring vehicles with a higher quality of engineering and design sophistication. And each year more young people join the move toward low-impact transportation.”
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