Things have been typically busy in NYC, but I slowed my breakneck pace for a few hours for a special parade for Earth Day, celebrated April 22. The first of its kind, I believe, as it was a parade of electric and hybrid vehicles – dubbed the CO2 E Drive – in the heart of Times Square. New York City under Mayor Mike Bloomberg has steadily added such vehicles to various fleets from the Parks Department, to the Taxi and Limousine Commission to, yes, even the New York Police Department.
Bridgestone kicked off the parade with their Ecopia tires. Low rolling resistance adds fuel efficiency with higher MPGs, with the side benefit of a quieter ride. Toyota then drove out a fleet of Prii (my Latin teacher is still probably cursing the plural of Prius). The Prius was among the first of six authorized hybrid models to be added to the taxi fleet in 2005, and now hybrid vehicles make up around 38% of the current medallion fleet. While Nissan’s embattled Taxi of Tomorrow was missing, the all-electric LEAF drove out. Six LEAF EVs will be added to the taxi fleet this spring to see how they perform under NYC’s rigorous driving conditions, and hacks driving the LEAF will have quick-chargers installed so they can recharge during their shift. I hope they have leg room – this tall girl’s knees always get bruised in the Prius cabs, as much as I’m all for using them.
VIA Motors was also on hand with Bob Lutz and a V-TRUX pickup truck. VIA Motors converts light trucks and SUVs to all-electric with their E-REV powertrain, enabling the first 40 miles to be driven in all-electric mode. The NYPD showed off a Ford Fusion and a Chevy Volt used for traffic enforcement, then Sanitation drove in with their big trucks. The first hybrid street sweepers in the sanitation fleet were delivered in the fall of 2011. These hybrid diesel sweepers reduce fuel use by roughly 30%, at the same time reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 100 metric tons per year. It’s projected that the reduction in fuel consumption with the initial five hybrids purchased will save the city almost $34,000 annually. This is a pilot program, and NYC is the first city in the country to buy and test these vehicles. Next up was a big Mack garbage truck, also a diesel hybrid. These trucks have a 500-pound lithium ion battery and regenerative braking, only get about three miles per gallon, but don’t just drive around; they also have to compact garbage, carry tons of said refuse, and plow snow (only occasionally these days, our winters have been wimpy.) The first of these hybrid trucks were delivered in 2009, and as they are assessed in daily use, more may be added to the current fleet.
An all-electric motorbike followed suit, and the parade was closed out with the ultimate green vehicle, the hipster, no, human-powered pedi-cab. It’s exciting and promising that electric and hybrid vehicles are being pursued and embraced by municipalities. As long as they perform the job they are meant to do and reduce emissions without gobbling up resources, why not?