The 2006 Tour de Sol—the 18th of the annual green car event organized by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA)—featured three separate competitions with entrants using energy-efficiency techniques and less carbon-intensive fuels to demonstrate an average of 66 mpg, 140% above the current CAFE standard.
Top honors went to Wayne Gerdes of Illinois; West Philadelphia High School of Philadelphia, PA; Greasecar Vegetable Fuel System, of Easthampton, MA; Burlington County Electecs of Lawrenceville, NJ; and Optibike of Bolder, CO.
For auto enthusiasts and environmentalists these are tremendously exciting results. This demonstrates what is possible today and that we can do even better in the near future. We must work together and continue to develop vehicles that aim to cut oil use and climate change emissions to zero.—Nancy Hazard, NESEA
Competitions at the Tour de Sol included:
Monte Carlo-style Rally and High-Mileage Challenge.
Tour de Sol Championship to challenge students, independent teams, and auto manufacturers to build one-of-a-kind or production vehicles that aim to reduce gasoline use and work toward zero climate change emissions.
Around-Town Vehicle Competition challenges students and others to build electric bikes and neighborhood vehicles as well as off-road vehicles, and demonstrate their vision of auto-free communities in a one or two-day event.
Monte Carlo Rally. In the Monte Carlo style Rally, Gerdes drove a stock Insight from Chicago on a single tank of gas achieving 90.4 mpg and captured the grand prize of the Monte Carlo-style fuel efficiency Championship. Two other independent teams, Jack Lee from Venice, FL and Willy Williford from Campo, CA, had added turbochargers to their Honda Insights, which have a 57 mpg EPA rating. Jack Lee’s vehicle demonstrated fuel economy of more than 76 mpg.
Mike Dabrowski of North Grosvenordale, CT, modified his Insight to support plug-in charging and added a 5th wheel powered by an electric motor for faster electric startup. This vehicle achieved an overall performance of 82.49 mpg and took 3 awards, including the top “Plug-In Hybrid” Award.
In the alternative fuel division of the Monte Carlo-style Rally, Homeland Energy Resources Development drove a Honda GX that runs on compressed natural gas. Greasecar Vegetable Fuel Systems entered an Austin Mini Clubman converted with their kit to run on 100% vegetable oil. Eastern Biofuels, the largest biodiesel supplier in the Northeast, refueled the biodiesel-powered vehicles.
The Gavin Watson team received a cash prize from the National Biodiesel Board for taking first place in this division with a 1973 Porsche 914 powered by 100% soybean oil that got 53 mpg and reduced climate change emissions by 87% compared to a conventional 27-mpg vehicle.
Tour de Sol Championship. The West Philadelphia High School team took top honors in the student Hybrid and Alternative fuel division with a purpose-built sports car that can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 5.5 seconds and achieves fuel economy of 55 mpg.
The Greasecar Mad Mini team carried the day in the independent division with Mini Cooper Clubman with Greasecar Vegetable Fuel System kit installed so that it could run on 100% vegetable oil.
In the battery-electric division, EVermont, from Waterbury, VT demonstrated fuel efficiency in electric vehicles with more than 160 MPGe, while the Burlington Electecs of Lawrenceville, NJ took top honors with a student-built electric vehicle.
In the Solar-Assisted electric division, the West Irondequoit took top honors in the one-person category, and St. Mark’s School, Southborough, MA, took top honors in the two-person category. St. Mark’s and the North Haven Community School from North Haven, ME tied for the “Renewablity Prize,” demonstrating zero climate change emissions. St. Marks purchased green electricity from their local utility to run their car, while North Haven added solar panels to their school to generate electricity to run their car.
Around Town Vehicle Competition. This grew to eleven entries this year. This competition challenges entrants to design motorized vehicles that could replace the conventional car in our communities with zero carbon emission vehicles.
In the production division, Optibike, of Bolder, CO, demonstrated a range of 104 miles in less than four hours on its electric bicycle, the Optibike 400, which uses lithium batteries. In the independent and student divisions there were four entries using lithium batteries and two using lead-acid batteries.
In the neighborhood electric vehicle division, three GEMs entered—one from the Southern Berkshire Regional School, Sheffield, MA and two from the Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs, NY. All of the vehicles drove more than 20 miles with conventional lead acid batteries and received a cash prize from the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium for their achievements.
Premier sponsors of the 2006 Tour de Sol were the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the Center for Technology Commercialization. Additional key sponsors included the New York Power Authority, the Saratoga Automobile Museum, Stewart’s Shops, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, Eastern Biofuels, New York Department of Environmental Conservation, Toyota, the UK Trade & Investment, Honda, Kurkoski Solar Electric, Westboro Toyota, the US Environmental Protection Agency, E-The Environmental Magazine, EIN Publishing, and GreenBiz.com.