The hundred and fifty year old red brick buildings that comprise the Distillery District were the perfect backdrop for the 2012 Toronto Eco-Wheels Show that was hosted in the historic venue June 16, 17th weekend. This early industrial compound has a long history of vehicular transport, and the rusty old pick-up truck that’s preserved in Distillery Lane stood out in sharp contrast to the state-of-the-art solar powered cars parked all over the property.
The Distillery has used many different types of fuel over the years. The place started life as a windmill grinding grain, and animal oil lamps illuminated the property at night. No kidding, this place really is that old! Our facilities were no doubt first lit with whale oil lamps, a few years before natural gas lamps became widespread in 1840s Toronto. Gas lighting was first introduced in 1841 by the Toronto Gas Light and Water Company Ltd. which opened the city’s first gas works near Front and Parliament, right across the street. Like many other large scale industrial centers, the distillery had its own railroad tracks, and the locomotives burned wood and coal before they were switched to oil after WWII. They delivered large amounts of coal that was used to feed the furnace in the Boiler House. And let’s not forget, Gooderham and Worts made several types of commercial alcohol over the years, and some of that was used as fuel, or more specifically, in the production of fuel additives. Today the property is well decorated with rusty old trucks and wooden whisky barrels on vintage horse drawn wagons; they’ve been left behind as a testament to early industrial transportation systems. And on June 16 17 old met new at @ECOWHEELSSHOW
At the other end of the technological spectrum, the exhibitors at the 2012 Toronto Eco Wheels Show highlighted the best in class of new eco-friendly vehicles which include hybrid / electric cars and gas / electric scooters, motorcycles and even pedal / electric bicycles. The show had free admission and several thousand visitors.
On Sunday, half of the folks at the event were wearing the signature orange t-shirts of a bike marathon that had just made its way to the grounds – the club set this show as its final destination. So it was a double whammy and that made our venue quite crowded at times. And there was a solar powered race car inside the gate which was the favourite of all men age 9 to 90 years old. The car was a recent project completed at McMaster university with the help of about a half dozen other companies and institutions. The car is entirely solar powered but is not very feasible for day-to-day use in our present society. Some of the innovations pioneered here will however work their way into the mainstream automotive industry over the next couple of years.
Amego Electric Vehicles – Attendees can buy a Vespa Style E-Bike for about $2300 CAN
Maria Cavaggioni and her husband Fabio were helping out as representatives of Amego: Vespa style ebikes in Toronto which is a business that could seriously change personal locomotion. Gas burning cars may soon be obsolete on downtown streets.
Maria and Fabio were on hand to help change the lives of inner city commuters by selling them an electric scooter, and for this author they they described the effortless pleasure of gliding through the fresh air without emitting any exhaust or noise pollution. And they highlighted how you can park and drive your Amego anywhere a bicycle can travel, and for almost the same low costs.
One advantage of Amego over an ordinary bicycle is the absence of exercise and sweaty clothes which is hard to explain at business meetings and can be awkward in classroom situations too. With an electric bike, users can arrive in style, on time even in rush hour traffic, without sweaty clothes or fly-away hair.
Fabio and his wife Maria are from Italy, and so I can only imagine that they have seen the trend in Europe toward electric bikes and have waited with some impatience for the market to become established here – tired of waiting, they have acted to bring the urban travel experience home to Canada’s largest city. Fabio says “With your Amego you may just find yourself taking an hour lunch, putting on a stylish scarf to finish your look, or buying fresh local groceries and going on a picnic in the park.” It’s a lifestyle change.
And it has huge cost savings in the following areas,
1. Park for free!
2. No insurance or license for e-bikes.
3. Costs only $0.16 to fully charge your Amego and go 50-70 kms.
4. Save on public transportation & cab fare.
5. Attractive acquisition prices.
6. Zero Gas!
7. Little maintenance and no oil changes!
Plus you can feel good and breath in the Fresh Air! Because this vehicle has zero emissions which means it produces zero carbon dioxide (CO2) and no Particulate Matter (PM) or any Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) or any Hydrogen Carbons (HC) or any Carbon Monoxide (CO). Amego’s electric scooters are so clean you can even drive them indoors!
Car 2 Go – Car sharing in Toronto
Leah Camenzind did a good job communicating her vision of car sharing in Toronto at Car2Go booth in the center of the 2012 Eco Wheels Show.
In Leah’s utopian vision of the future, there’s a CAR2GO on every street corner. This dream launches June 30th when Cars2go will give out its membership services in the mail within 3 to 5 business days. The company has a free floating concept which means there is no return time. A functional alternative to Autoshare for example, so you don’t have to concern yourself with being charged extra while you’re behind pesky summer construction. When you’re done with the carshare, Cars2go has parking spots at many Green P locations, some Target parking lots, and a few designated locations on the University of Toronto campus. The Cars2go team handles the rest from there. They take care of refueling, cleaning, roadside assistance, GPS navigation, insurance, parking and many other services – all are included in the affordable rental price. Indeed car2go is just what it sounds like – a car to go
Becoming a member is easy and convenient. Simply complete the online registration form, and within 3-5 business days you will receive your membership in the mail after June 30th when Cars2go launches their services and you can have access to the network of car2go vehicles throughout the Home Area which you can see in Leah’s hand above. Follow on Twitter @Car2GoToronto
Plug n Drive Ontario
Plug n Drive Ontario is a nonprofit organization that works to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles (EV) as a means of helping Ontario drivers save money and reduce their impact on the environment.
The Province of Ontario is offering a rebate of up to $8500 towards the purchase of an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid car. Green cars are also eligible for a green vehicle license plate. Such plates are awesome because they come with additional benefits like the ability to use the HOV lanes during rush hour, even when commuting alone; these lanes are usually reserved for car with multiple passengers, however green license plates are one exception to the rule.
Ontario is ideally positioned to benefit from widespread adoption of EV. Our energy system is clean and night-time charging allows drivers to take advantage of low-time-of-use prices set by our hydro company. Researchers have reported that over 85% of Ontario commuters travel less than 25km to work each day – making adoption of EV even easier. Find them on Twitter @PlugN_Drive
Goal Zero Solar Adventure Kits
Laurie and Raissa from Goal Zero demonstrated the advantages of having a good reliable power source anywhere you happen to be.
The Escape Adventure Kit comes with a 150 watt battery and includes AC inverter. The solar panels are all you need to charge your battery to power your laptop, or camera, or lights, anywhere you need an otherwise unavailable electrical source.
Tire Life CHECK Boys
Louis, Mike and Anish of Green My Tires were fully inflated at the 2012 Toronto Eco Wheels Show and their booth was the most endowed with dispensable SWAG. The troops gave this author four different automotive accessories to help remember them by, and to help properly digest their message:
Ontario Tire Stewardship (OTS) was established in 2009 and is incorporated under Ontario’s Waste Diversion Act. The organization exists to help Ontarians reduce, reuse and recycle their used tires through the Used Tires Program in Ontario. Their program recycles and reuses the 12 million tires sold annually in the province, preventing them from ending up in landfills or being dumped illegally. Instead, OTS directs these scrap tires to recyclers who use them to make new green products for your home, office, local school and park.
Recycled tires are used to make a wide range of useful green products:
Producing tire-derived aggregate instead of stone
Crumb rubber which is used to make better sports fields,
playgrounds, hockey rinks, and more durable quieter roads
Finished goods including floor mats, soaker hoses, mouse pads, roof
shingles and sidewalks, and rubber components for cars and trucks
The Nissan LEAF Booth
The Nissan LEAF is not a hybrid vehicle, but rather is the world’s first mass-produced 100% electric car!
The LEAF has a top speed of 144 kms hr and a maximum range of 160 kms on a single charge, but if you have a 120 volt charger it takes 21 hrs to bring the battery back up to a full strength. It only takes seven hours if you have a 240V
This is an electric engine – there are no emissions because there is no tailpipe.
The annual Eco-Wheels Show is an important part of building stronger ecological awareness in Toronto to help enhance Toronto’s adoption of green transport alternatives and support green energy initiatives. The event was established a few years ago to provide a forum for Eco Awareness and it has grown stronger each year. This annual display and celebration of alternative energy technology let consumers get up close and personal with new automotive product developments designed to save money and protect the environment.