2017 AJAC EcoRun: the Quest to Save Energy

On June 15 and 16, The Car Guide participated in the sixth annual edition of the EcoRun, an event organised by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada, in collaboration with the Canadian Fuels Association, aiming to drive a wide selection of energy-efficient vehicles, but also to promote eco-driving.

When we purchase a car or truck, new or pre-owned, most of us are concerned with the fuel economy figures published by the manufacturer, or by Natural Resources Canada that establish the procedures car companies must follow when they calculate city, highway and combined fuel consumption ratings. Obviously, our results will vary based on our climate, but on a sunny day that’s not too hot, if we can’t achieve the averages published for our vehicle, it might have something to do with our driving habits.

Eco-driving is the technique of avoiding harsh acceleration and braking, smoothing out our throttle input and to anticipate the road ahead in order to avoid unnecessary braking. It’s finding a good balance between smooth acceleration without being a roadblock to traffic that’s following behind. It’s spotting any possible immobilisation up ahead, like a stoplight that would turn red, for example, and to ease throttle input in advance as to not waste any fuel, since we’ll have to stop anyway. And maybe by slowing down, or coasting, we could arrive at that stoplight at the moment it turns green again, and we wouldn’t have to come to a complete stop.

What we must understand is that accelerating to reach a cruising speed is what makes our vehicle’s engine consume the most. Once that comfortable speed is reached, the engine doesn’t work nearly as hard. That’s why hybrid vehicles are so efficient around town, because their electric motor assists the combustion engine in its task to get the vehicle moving along, which obviously saves fuel.

This year, the AJAC EcoRun was held mostly in the Province of Quebec. The event actually started on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on the morning of June 15, as 19 vehicles and 19 automotive journalists from across the country hit the road. During the trip, we drove through the Laurentians, Montreal and Trois-Rivieres, ending our journey in Quebec City on Friday afternoon, June 16. Each journalist got to drive eight vehicles.

Those 19 vehicles included, in alphabetical order, the Chevrolet Bolt EV, the Chevrolet Cruze diesel, the Ford C-MAX Energi, the Ford Focus Electric, the Ford Fusion Energi, the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, the Kia Niro, the Lexus LC 500h, the Mazda CX-5, the Mazda MX-5 RF, the Mercedes-Benz GLE 350e, the Nissan Pathfinder Midnight Edition, the Nissan Versa Note (manual and automatic), the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, the Subaru Forester, the Toyota Mirai, the Toyota Prius Prime as well as the Volkswagen e-Golf.

Yours truly had the opportunity to drive the following models, each found in separate reviews on The Car Guide.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze diesel at AJAC EcoRun
2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid at AJAC EcoRun
2018 Lexus LC 500h at AJAC EcoRun
2017 Mazda MX-5 RF at AJAC EcoRun
2017 Nissan Versa Note at AJAC EcoRun
2017 Toyota Mirai at AJAC EcoRun
2017 Toyota Prius Prime at AJAC EcoRun

At each stop along the way, fuel or energy consumption was recorded in each vehicle. At the end of our journey, at dinnertime on the second day, the famous Green Jersey was awarded to fellow journalist Wade Ozeroff of Edmonton, who ended up being the most efficient driver of the bunch.

Amongst the 19 vehicles participating in this year’s EcoRun, only two consumed more than the combined city/highway rating published by the automotive manufacturers, and in both cases, we’re talking about 0.1 L/100 km. The rest obtained an average lower than their official rating. So yes, it is truly possible to save fuel or energy by eco-driving, and why not try it with your own vehicle? You’ll likely end up saving money!

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