WHISTLER, BC, May 8, 2014 /CNW/ - The town of Whistler, which was in the global spotlight as a venue for the 2010 Winter Olympics, officially welcomed the third annual Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) EcoRun Wednesday with a ceremony in the same plaza where the Olympic medal-winning performances were celebrated. With the Olympic Plaza shops and the mountains beyond framing the display of 18 EcoRun vehicles in a most picturesque backdrop, Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden told the gathering how her community of just 10,000 permanent residents not only played a key role in generating a major portion of the tourism dollars in this province annually, it was also a leader in establishing the infrastructure to support the growing trend toward electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. In fact, there are numerous charging stations in key locations within the town, including municipal parking lots and garages, hotels and other sites likely to be frequented by visitors. That infrastructure made the overnight recharging of the electric and plug-in hybrid EcoRun entries a breeze.
The EcoRun left Whistler under gorgeous, sunny conditions for a day of driving in the region around Pemberton, about 35 kilometres away. The first stop was the Pemberton airport, where driving school operator (and AJAC member) Alan Sidorov and his team helped the EcoRun drivers put the vehicles through some dynamic testing drills on the airport taxiway. This was a first for EcoRun - in the previous drives in Southwestern Ontario and last year's Ottawa to Montreal run, the drivers had been limited to evaluating the entries solely in highway driving.
A stop for tasty barbeque lunch at the Pemberton Lodge followed the airport activities, then the drivers were free to take the EcoRun vehicles on a choice of scenic drive routes into the mountains beyond the town.
The day wrapped up with a return for an overnight stop in Whistler before making the return run Thursday down the Sea-to-Sky Highway to Vancouver. The finale, starting at 1 p.m, will be held at the same Jack Poole Plaza in downtown Vancouver where the EcoRun started. Activities there will feature an afternoon consumer show where the public is invited to not only inspect the EcoRun entries and interact with the drivers, but will also have the opportunity to gain some eco-driving training on a simulator and then test that newly gained knowledge in a ride-and-drive on adjacent streets.
The three-day EcoRun is showcasing the latest advances in fuel efficiency and reduced emissions being offered to consumers. Twelve of Canada's leading automotive manufacturers have contributed to the fleet of 18 vehicles in this year's run. The fleet includes pure EVs, plug-in and conventional hybrids and high-efficiency gas- and diesel-fuelled internal combustion powertrains. The entries are 2014 and 2015 model-year compacts and subcompacts, family sedans and crossovers, even a premium sports sedan and a pickup truck and they are being driven by 18 AJAC journalists from across Canada who have undertaken special training in eco-driving techniques. Through their numerous media outlets across the country, they are sharing their experiences as they demonstrate more fuel-efficient ways to drive vehicles and help Canadians reduce the pain at the pumps.
Each vehicle participating in EcoRun has been fitted with a special monitoring device that records its fuel consumption, as well as the driving techniques of the driver. The results reflect fuel consumption in real-world driving conditions and that data will subsequently be posted on the AJAC website (www.ajac.ca) so consumers can compare those results and make informed decisions when deciding on their next vehicle purchase, whether it's a small car, a typical family sedan, or even a light duty truck.
Here's the list of vehicles participating in this year's AJAC EcoRun:
2014 MINI Cooper
2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel
2014 Ford CMAX Energi
2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
2015 Cadillac ELR
2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel
2014 Honda Accord Hybrid
2014 Hyundai Elantra
Kia Optima Hybrid
2014 Mazda3 2.0L
2015 Mazda6 i-ELOOP
2014 Mercedes-Benz GL 350 4MATIC BlueTEC
2014 Mercedes-Benz E 250 4MATIC BlueTEC Sedan
2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV
2014 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV + Tech
2014 Nissan Leaf SL
2014 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid
2015 Volvo XC60 Drive-E
SOURCE: Automobile Journalists Association of Canada
Media updates on EcoRun, plus photos and video, are available on the AJAC website (www.ajac.ca) under the EcoRun tab. For more information, contact Susan Elliott (firstname.lastname@example.org); EcoRun chairman Clare Dear at email@example.com; or Siobhan Duffield at AJAC (firstname.lastname@example.org).