Contact: Pam McCurdy, 651-215-0230
St. Paul, Minn. -- Vehicles are one of the largest purchases made by U.S. consumers. With rising gas prices and a growing concern for the environment, it's not surprising that consumers are interested in alternative vehicles -- cars and trucks that save gas and tread lightly on the environment. As purchases of alternative vehicles increase, it shows buyers are looking for means of transportation that cut fuel costs, reduce greenhouse gases and improve air quality.
A wide array of currently available vehicles, as well as cars now being tested for the market, will be at the Living Green Expo, May 3 and 4 on the grounds of the Minnesota State Fair. One tent at the expo will be devoted to more than 30 alternative vehicles showcasing the latest in automotive technologies such as hydrogen fuel cell, plug-in hybrids, clean diesel, electric, biofuels and more. Featured vehicles include:
Fuel Cell SUV
This year, Expo visitors will be treated with a first glimpse of the new Chevrolet Fuel Cell Equinox. Currently, only 100 of these Green Car Vision Award SUVs are being tested in the United States. This zero emissions vehicle runs on hydrogen and the only thing that comes from its tailpipe is water.
On the market for nearly a decade, gas/electric hybrids are the pioneers of alternative vehicles. Presented at the Living Green Expo, these vehicles boast some of the highest fuel efficiency ratings of cars currently available to consumers. Honda, Toyota and Ford will display gas/electric hybrid models. Additionally, Ford's flex-fuel hybrid Escape, currently being test marketed under lease by the State of Minnesota will be featured. It can run on E-85 fuel (85 percent ethanol,15 percent gasoline).
Green Car of the Year winner, the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, will show off its new two-mode hybrid propulsion system. This technology allows the vehicle to run totally on electric power or boost engine power with gas resulting in up to 50 percent better fuel economy. The two-mode hybrid Chevrolet Malibu will also be showcased.
Plug-in hybrids are cars that can be plugged into an electric outlet. Featured at this year's expo will be Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak's gas/electric hybrid car. The fuel efficiency of this car can reach more than 70 miles per gallon. Cars like the Mayor's may soon be recharged by electricity generated by solar panels.
Xcel Energy's state-of-the-art Ford Escape will demonstrate the latest in plug-in hybrid technology. "Volts-2-Grid" allows surplus electricity to flow from the car back to homes, businesses or to the power grid. A typical V2G vehicle can power up to 10 houses.
New for 2008 and also on display at the expo are advanced technology diesel engines. Developed by Mercedes and others, BlueTec clean diesel engines optimize fuel use and significantly reduce air emissions. Diesel engines generally yield better gas mileage than their gas counterparts.
Neighborhood Electric Vehicles
Another great alternative vehicle featured are neighborhood electric vehicles (NEV). These totally electric vehicles are recharged by plugging them into an electrical outlet. They offer a great option for urban commuters and for quick trips in around town.
NEVs now come in different sizes and options, including utility hauling and four-passenger comfort. Products from makers such as Dymac, Zenn, Zap and GEM will be featured at the Living Green Expo.
Widely available in Europe, Smart Car is making its U.S. debut this year. While gas-powered, this ultra compact car is notably fuel efficient and uniquely designed. In addition to featuring a Smart Car at its display, Great River Energy, will take your used compact fluorescent light bulb and recycle it.
Convert old technologies to green
Three diesel engine vehicles, converted to run on waste vegetable oil, will also be on display at the expo. They include a converted Chevrolet truck, Mercedes sedan and Volkswagon Jetta. Drivers of these vehicles typically collect the waste oil from local restaurants. Also on display will be traditional cars, for example, a Corvette and Corvair converted into electric vehicles that you can take on the highway.
Flex Fuel - E85
The flex-fuel Dodge Avenger SXT and Dodge Grand Caravan will also be available at the expo.
About the Living Green Expo
The Living Green Expo is a free, annual event taking place at the grandstand at the Minnesota State Fair the weekend of May 3-4, 2008. The event provides information and products to help Minnesotans improve the environmental and social impacts of their day-to-day living. The Living Green Expo features more than 200 exhibitors of products, services, and information, along with 60 workshops on a variety of sustainability and green living topics.
Expo attractions include music, food, demonstrations and activities for youth and children. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency leads a collaboration of governmental, nonprofit and business organizations to produce the Living Green Expo. For more information, visit www.LivingGreen.org.
Find out more on the Living Green Expo Web site at www.livinggreen.org.
Editor's note: Photos of some of the vehicles on display at the Living Green Expo are available at www.livinggreen.org/media.cfm#altvehicle.