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Green Ride and Drive debuts at Vancouver International Auto Show 2013

2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid, image courtesy of the Vancouver International Auto Show

After one last stint at BC Place year, the Vancouver International Auto Show (VIAS) is back in its new digs at the Vancouver Convention Centre bigger and greener than ever.

Taking place March 26 to 31, executive director Paul McGeachie said fuel-efficiency and new eco-technologies have been top of mind for the show the last few years, and this year is no exception with the introduction of the Green Ride and Drive experience that will be set up in front of the Convention Centre.

“This is the first time we’ve had a themed fleet of about 16 to 18 vehicles. It gives the chance if someone really likes the specialty vehicles to get behind the wheel,” McGeachie said.

He added part of the reasoning behind the hands-on experience is to dispel the popular idea that all eco-friendly cars look like the first-generation Honda Insight. Included in the lineup are the different variations of the very regular-looking Ford Fusion Hybrid, Ford Focus BEV, Toyota Prius V and C, Lexus ESH Hybrid, Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, and others.

“When customers are at the show, they’ll see signs showing which vehicles are eligible and they can visit the manufacturer of their choice and book a ride time in it,” said McGeachie, adding sign-up times are first come, first serve so it is best to show up early to ensure a spot. Participants will be able to take the car for a 10-minute ride around town.

In addition to the Ride and Drive, BC Hydro will also be on site with a demo of their second quick charge station in the city. McGeachie said charging stations like these are just the beginning as more companies and manufacturers explore alternative ways to power cars not just for the sake of being green, but because “it’s just the way it’s done now.”

Luckily for the sports car crowd, he said efficiency can be fun, too.

“Performance electric is really getting a push. There’s monster torque availability that gas engines can’t match,” said McGeachie, citing an example of a “crazy” Porsche with an electric engine swap he witnessed tearing down the tarmac.

Visitors will be able to get up close and personal with some of the performance green machines like Tesla and Fisker, along with all the other varieties of vehicles belonging to about 28 individual brands at the province’s biggest and longest-running automotive event.

VIAS opens next Tuesday at 12 p.m., tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $4 for children seven to 12 years old. For more information visit www.vancouverinternationalautoshow.com.

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