On Oct. 15, people of all ages and backgrounds came together to celebrate the fifth National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day Odyssey. This National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium biennial event spanned the U.S. from South Portland, Maine, to San Diego, Calif., and between Orlando, Fla., and Shoreline, Wash.

With a mission to promote cleaner choices in transportation via its unique mix of “green vehicle” related events, Odyssey crossed the Pacific Ocean into Honolulu, Hawaii, and made its way north to Ontario, Canada.

Thousands attended one of the 125 Odyssey events that were designed to increase public awareness of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles and their benefits to our environment and nation’s energy security.

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Rick Dovey, president of Atlantic County Utilities Authority (ACUA), speaks to Egg Harbor Township, N.J., residents during the New Jersey Clean Cities Coalition Odyssey, held in conjunction with the ACUA’s opening of the area’s first CNG fueling station. Credit: NAFTC

“We are very excited that Odyssey’s message about the importance of alternative energy technologies continues to reach such a large and increasing number of individuals each year it’s conducted,” said NAFTC Executive Director and Odyssey Coordinator Al Ebron.

Since the 2002 inaugural National AFV Day Odyssey, when less than 20,000 individuals took part, Odyssey’s growth has multiplied significantly. In 2008, nearly 200,000 attended one of its 94 nationwide event sites, and Odyssey’s message reached more than 50 million through extensive media coverage. The 2010 preliminary figures reveal that this year’s audience participation and media reach will surpass Odyssey’s record-setting 2008 numbers.

New funding facilitated Odyssey’s move into secondary schools this year, bringing its message to a new generation of consumers.

“It’s been extremely rewarding to see the increasingly diverse and growing audiences that Odyssey continues to attract throughout the country and to realize the vast number of people Odyssey has influenced to make cleaner transportation choices,” said Judy Moore, NAFTC assistant director of communications and outreach and Odyssey co-coordinator.

National AFV Day Odyssey’s success is due to the collective efforts of many people and organizations, including dedicated site coordinators and their teams, educational institutions, Clean Cities Coalitions, NAFTC National Training Centers and other like-minded businesses, groups and organizations; plus the support of local and national sponsors and partners, including the U.S. Department of Energy.

This remarkable collaboration enables the journey in promoting energy-efficient vehicles to continue through a host of informative and creative Odyssey events. Such events contain crowd-pleasing activities like the Imagination Station’s science center demonstration in Lafayette, Ind., on how to make fuel from plants; the “Clean Fuels Jeopardy” trivia contest at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tenn.; the ride-and-drive obstacle course challenge at the College of Southern Nevada in North Las Vegas; and the University of Michigan and DTE Energy presentations given on their biodiesel and natural gas vehicle fleets at the Michigan Electric Auto Association and Michigan Clean Energy Coalition event held at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Mich.

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The East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition Odyssey Team hosted its event at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tenn. Credit: NAFTC

Odyssey events were also organized in dozens of West Coast venues including the fifth annual City of Santa Monica AltCar Expo & Conference. The AltCar Expo served as one of Odyssey’s special event partners and attracted a huge number of attendees with its impressive display of alternative powered vehicles.

In addition, Blake Murray, a veteran Odyssey site coordinator in the state of Washington and Wenatchee Valley College Automotive Technology Program director noted that his 2010 Odyssey event was more successful than Odyssey 2008.

“We had a wider variety of vehicles this year, and we generated much more interest in alternative fuels,” Murray said. “The local radio stations and newspaper were very interested this time around and actually approached me for information. In 2008, I was the one asking for their time. I’m really excited about everything that is happening and looking forward to Odyssey 2012.”

With the momentum of this year’s National AFV Day Odyssey still in the air, the NAFTC team is anticipating the next installment of Odyssey as well. And, plans are underway for it to be even bigger and better than ever.

For information about how to become involved in the 2012 National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day Odyssey, contact Odyssey Manager Virginia McMillen at 304-293-7882 or virginia.mcmillen@mail.wvu.edu.




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