General Motors, Ford, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Honda
and Smart USA teamed up with engineers
from Consumer Reports recently
to demonstrate next-generation automotive powertrains at the "Future of the
Car" event here in East Haddam, CT.
The event highlighted
fuel cells, electric drives, hybrids and gasoline-burning economy cars as a
way of laying the foundation for consumers to better understand their future
almost like going back to the turn of the century, when they had steam power and
electric power and gasoline was just in its infancy," said David Champion,
senior director of the Consumers Union Auto Test Center. "Now it's a slightly
different situation. It's more environmental. We know we're going to run out of
petroleum products at some point in time."
event, Consumer Reports provided a wide variety of alternative fuel
vehicles for attendees to test drive in a driving rain storm at Consumer
Reports' auto test facility course. Chevrolet allowed drivers to try out its Equinox Hydrogen Fuel Cell
vehicle while Honda demonstrated its FCX Clarity Hydrogen Fuel Cell
vehicle. SmartUSA offered up a gasoline-burning "Smart fortwo;" BMW
demonstrated its hydrogen-based H7; Nissan displayed an Altima hybrid and Ford
had its Escape hybrid and its Lincoln MKS with EcoBoost engine technology.
Members of the Electric Auto Association
also showed off a 1991 Volkswagen Jetta and a 1981 DeLorean, both of which had
been converted to operate off battery power. Notably, however, General Motors did not bring its high-publicized Chevy Volt to the event.
of the vehicles were followed by explanations of the technology and a
discussion on whether "miles per gallon" is still a legitimate way to measure
vehicle efficiency, especially in light of the increased use of electrical
Representatives from the Electric
Auto Association also took the opportunity to query General Motors on why none
of the utility companies had purchased the automaker's now-defunct EV1, adding
that "we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore." A GM
representative at the event replied that consumer interest in the EV1 at the
time was very low.
representatives said the motivation for the event was to allow the
consumer community to be exposed to the technical issues surrounding
alternative fuels, and to serve as a small step in helping society solve its
automotive energy dilemmas.
got to be something as a society that we can do to look at where the car is now
and where we want it to be in 2050 when our kids are grown up and driving," Champion said.