The kickoff event for the 2010 National AFV Day Odyssey was held Oct. 14 in New York City’s Union Square, hosted by New York City Lower Hudson Valley Clean Communities and the City of New York Parks & Recreation, with support from the New York City Department of Transportation.
NYCLHVCC’s Executive Director Christina Ficicchia said Odyssey gave NYC residents “an opportunity to obtain a first-hand look at a diversity of AFVs that our city agencies and private companies use every day.” She also highlighted the leadership role New York is taking in green transportation and the importance of continued education and advocacy efforts. “With one of the largest transportation systems in the country, we are transporting people through some of the greenest avenues possible on our subways, and now with continued support, we can be confident that our transportation network is getting even greener by increasing the number of alternative fuel vehicles that support our businesses on the road and that help our residents get around,” said Ficicchia.
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg recognized National AFV Day Odyssey with a proclamation declaring Oct. 15 National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day. During the kickoff, Al Ebron, executive director of the NAFTC, accepted the proclamation from NYC Parks and Recreation Assistant Commissioner for Citywide Operations Keith Kerman.
“The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium is honored that Mayor Bloomberg issued the proclamation in support of alternative fuel vehicles and National AFV Day Odyssey,” Ebron said. “We are proud of Odyssey’s mission as we seek to empower fellow Americans to find out what they can do to become part of the solution to challenges associated with the nation’s dependence on petroleum.”[Snippet Error: This file has been deleted.]
New York City Parks Department, which operates nearly 400 hybrid vehicles throughout the city, showcased its pioneering efforts to switch to alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles at the event. Kerman noted the Parks Department tests the fuel economy of all its vehicles, boasting a 50-100 percent improvement in fuel economy with hybrid technology. They also have more than 100 natural gas vehicles, 275 electric vehicles and 850 heavy- and light-duty trucks fueled by biodiesel.
“This is not a pilot for us; this is how we operate,” Kerman noted. “We also have saved and reduced over 350,000 gallons of fuel in the last year, so these products are actually leading to 10 percent less fuel use and millions of dollars in savings.”
More than 20 alternative fuel vehicles were on display for the public to view in Union Square, and representatives were on hand to answer questions and give information about the various technologies.
Eaton Corporation displayed an electric vehicle charger selected from their family of electric chargers designed for consumer, public and fleet use. Tom Schafer, vice president and general manager of the Commercial Distribution Products Eaton Electrical Division at Eaton Corporation, highlighted the necessity of the efforts being pursued by Odyssey and all of the participating organizations and individuals to educate consumers.
“In 2008 the United States consumed 21 billion barrels of oil a day, representing 23 percent of the world’s usage,” Schafer explained. “Yet, the U.S. only produces 10 percent of the oil we use. The transportation sector consumes 71 percent of that, so obviously the concerns of Odyssey, that of clean air, that of energy independence and that of economics are very clear.”
Toyota displayed one of its plug-in hybrid Prius prototypes to be released in 2012. Martha Voss, national public affairs manager at Toyota, discussed the importance of education in making the Prius such a success. “One of the things we’ve learned in the 10 years of marketing Prius is that you can have all the advanced technology in the world, but if people are not educated about it and the product does not reach the mass market, then you are not really making a difference in the environmental area. Educating the public makes a huge difference,” Voss noted.
THINK North America displayed an electric car that has been extremely successful in Europe and is now being introduced to the U.S. market. Barry Carr, eastern region manager for THINK NA, also highlighted the importance of education to advance alternative fuel vehicle technologies. “To me, Odyssey makes a difference because it is really aimed at educating younger people starting out at the community college level,” Carr said. “If we educate younger people, they are going to be ready for the next generation of alternative fuel vehicles.”
Some of the fleet vehicles that were highlighted at the event included New York City’s Department of Sanitation, which featured its hydraulic hybrid refuse truck, an innovative combination of alternative fuels utilizing hybrid hydraulic technology and a biodiesel-fueled engine. In addition, Verizon showcased one of its CNG vans, and Coca-Cola highlighted some of its major delivery trucks.
The national spokesperson for 2010 National AFV Day Odyssey was Josh Tickell, director of the 2008 Sundance Audience Award winning documentary “Fuel.” One of the nation’s leading experts in sustainable biofuels, Tickell also wrote two best-selling books titled “From the Fryer to the Fuel TankThe Complete Guide to Using Vegetable Oil as an Alternative Fuel” and “Biodiesel AmericaHow to Achieve Energy Security, Free America from Middle-East Oil Dependence and Make Money Growing Fuel.”
“Any one of these given technologies could completely replace our dependence on foreign oil. Together they represent the sure fire bet. They represent over one million new jobs in this country. They represent what we are going to see in the future,” said Tickell, speaking broadly about alternative fuel technologies. “I’m driven to see change. I know what is possible scientifically. I’ve seen it in other countries. If you take all of the elements that many cities are doing in the U.S. already and put them together, you have energy independence. If we could just do a couple more things, we’ll have that revolutionary moment,” continued Tickell.
Steven J. Levy, NYCLHVCC board president explained the crucial role Odyssey will play in mobilizing the public to transition to alternative fuels, gain energy independence and build a cleaner, more sustainable energy future. “Odyssey Day is incredibly important. We wish we could have Odyssey Day every day. Education, demonstration of vehicles, having people talk about alternative fuel vehicles and new technologies are so essential,” Levy commented. “Although alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles have been around for a long time, people are just finding out that they can make a difference on the consumer level. We need to change the consumer culture, and Odyssey does that.”