Almost right on the steps of the Capitol building in Washington D.C. this morning, a small collection of electric vehicles sat attracting attention. A Honda FCX, a GEM, a new ZENN, GM's HydroGen-3, Hyundai's Tuscon FCEV and a few others. Joggers stopped to ask what the ranges of the fuel cell vehicles were, government officials came by to go for rides, and attendees of the 2006 Electric Drive Transportation Association Conference & Exposition lined up to take the cars out for a spin. So did I. There's more pictures and a brief write-up after the jump.


By the time I got to this 2007 ZENN EV, its batteries were pretty much out of juice. I did take it for a 30 yard spin in a circle, though, and got it all the way to 12 mph!



Bill Williams, ZENN's Vice President of Sales, was on hand to tell people about the neighborhood electric vehicles. With no power left, he was having a bit of a hard time. But he soldiered on, saying he'd been watching the two ZENN vehicles doing circles near the Capitol since 5:45 a.m., when a TV crew from FOX filmed the EDTA show cars. William mentioned repeatedly that these little cars are great for the right kind of driver, they are ready for sale now, and he's here at the conference to find new retailers.






After the ZENN, I stepped into the Hyundai Tuscon FCEV. This was actually my first time in a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, and it was boringly similar to driving an ICE vehicle. Well, it sounded different and I knew I wasn't emitting any CO2, but other than that, the experience was a standard driving experience (there will be a video of this drive and other scenes from the Ride and Drive coming later).







I also took a spin in the Honda FCX. This was the older FCX, not the new version that Sam drove a few weeks ago. Again, the car is like a silent version of driving a regular car.



All of these cars are pretty quiet (the GM HydroGen-3 made some odd squeaking noises), but the ZENN is the only one that has an audio beep when in (reverse) motion.





This GEM was also out of juice. I joked with the GEM representative that we could all pitch in and push it back to the conference hotel. We laughed, but I'm not sure how he ever got the thing out of there.

The Ride and Drive was just a chance to be out in the nice late November air and test some advanced powertrain vehicles. How much can you really know about a car by driving it around the block? The meat of the conference starts tomorrow. I'll have a few more posts up later tonight, little preview interviews of what we can expect over the next few days.


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