City fleet boasts 46 hybrid vehicles
EarthCare Sudbury is always looking for ways to make the community more environmentally friendly and sustainable. The organization took its message to the street last week to get people thinking “green” when it comes to their modes of transportation.
“We designated September our transportation month so we’re holding a green vehicle show,” said Jennifer Babin-Fenske, co-ordinator of EarthCare Sudbury Initiatives for the City of Greater Sudbury. “We brought in a number of fuel-efficient and hybrid vehicles, including an electric ice re-surfacer and one of the newer transit buses that has very high fuel-efficiency. We wanted to welcome the community to take a look at some of these technologies.”
Babin-Fenske said there are quite a few technologies available in vehicles that are still relatively unknown to the general consumer, including those that can turn your vehicle on and off to reduce idling, and auxiliary heaters and coolers, which can be used for emergency vehicles, such as police cruisers or highway trucking vehicles, “where they can keep the cab cool in the summer or warm in the winter without actually running the engine.”
“I hope (people realize) there are a number of different ways you can be more fuel-efficient, it’s not just about hybrids,” she said. “There are things that can help you reduce your fuel consumption and save you money, with various driving techniques or little changes or upgrades you can make on your own car.”
There were a number of booths set up at the green vehicle show, which was held at Tom Davies Square on Sept. 12, including one by Plug’nDrive Ontario, a non-profit organization that is partially funded by the Ontario Power Generation.
Ron Groves, manager, education and outreach for Plug’n Drive, said Ontario has “very clean and cheap electricity,” meaning the switch to electric vehicles only makes sense.
I hope (people realize) there are a number of different ways you can be more fuel-efficient, it’s not just about hybrids.
co-ordinator of EarthCare Sudbury Initiatives
“About 55 per cent of our electricity comes from ‘nukes,’ about 30 per cent from hydro and two or three per cent solar and wind,” he said. “We also actually pay some of the cheapest electricity rates in the world. “
And there’s lot of it, too, especially at night, Groves said. “We actually export our electricity to the States. Sometimes we actually pay them to take it.
“If we could figure out a new way to use electricity, what would that be? Of course, they’re thinking transportation.”
He said electric vehicles are quite practical for many people, “but a lot of people don’t understand that.”
“Plug’n Drive is trying to help people figure out how an electric vehicle might fit in their lives.”
According to StatsCanada, most drivers only commute about 18 kilometres a day.
“The Chevy Volt will go 60 kilometres on a charge, so theoretically, if you never went any further than your commute, you’d never use the gas in the tank,” Groves said. “Generally speaking, the vehicles here have a range of about 150 to 160 kilometres on a charge. For long distance work, you would still need some kind of gasoline. The Chevy Volt is a great example of the best of both worlds.”
For long-distance commutes, Groves said the Volt can go 550 kilometres on combined electric and gasoline driving.
“You charge it up over night, then the first 60 kilometres will always be on the electric engine. When the battery is depleted, the gasoline engine fires up and generates electricity. The gas motor doesn’t actually drive the car, it just produces the electricity to power the electric motor to drive the car.”
Groves said he hoped the green vehicle show planted the seed in visitors’ minds to check out alternative fuel options.
“They can pour their own water on it and let it grow,” he said. “That’s all we can really hope to do.”
The City of Greater Sudbury took a step in the green direction about four years ago. Forty-six vehicles in the city fleet, including hydro and EMS, are hybrid vehicles.
“On average, we are tripling our fuel economy,” said Eric Bertrand, manager of fleet services for the City of Greater Sudbury. “What we’ve also found is they’ve been virtually maintenance-free. We haven’ t had to do anything to them. All we’ve done is servicing. Maintenance-wise, they’ve been a really big improvement for us.”
Even city buses have undergone changes in the past few years.
“The buses typically have a cooling system for the engine that is hydraulically driven, which steals a lot of horsepower. We’ve done conversions on them to make all the cooling systems electric, and that takes a lot of the draw off the engine.
“When comparing them, our average is 18 per cent more fuel-efficient.”
Mayor Marianne Matichuk was also on hand for the green car show, and encouraged the community to take initiative in “leaving the world a better place than we found it.”
“There’s nothing complicated about being green,” she said.
How much are you paying in fuel per year?- Full size - $2,150
- Compact - $2,000
- Hybrid - $1,250
- Electric Vehicle - $318
CO2 emissions per year- Full size - 4,200 kg
- Compact - 4,000 kg
- Hybrid - 2,400 kg
- Electric Vehicle - 340 kg
Data is based on driving 20,000 km per year at $1.20 per litre and off-peak electricity. Visit plugndrive.ca for more information.