AFVI Show: Tuesday morning general session with Ed Begley, Jr and maple syrup

The Tuesday morning general session started with the news of Monday's Supreme Court decision, which obviously directly affected the conference participants. Here are a few highlights from the rest of what was talked about.

Ed Begley, Jr. gave a wide-ranging talk (promoting just about every green technology you can think of: compact fluorescent lightbulbs, hybrid cars and EVs, biodiesel, hydrogen, solar, and more. He mentioned his new favorite electric car, the Phoenix SUT, by name, but Begley is happy to promote any pure electric car and he ended his speech with a list of reasons why EVs are the best near-term solution. You can listen to Ed here (MP3).

Hockey, maple syrup and Ballard fuel cells are the things that defince what it means to be Canadian today. That's the message from Jim Kenzie, car reviewer for the Toronto Star. In his presentation, The Greening of the Car, he said that pollution used to be thought of as simply bad, but now pollution is tied to climate change, and so it's taking on a wider meaning in society.

Read and hear more after the break
As for green cars, Kenzie said that new, cleaner diesels can't come soon enough. He also posed an interesting question: what do Americans love more, diesels or hybrids? Based on sales figures, it's diesels. Oil-burners have about two percent market share and hybrids only have about 1.5 percent.

These low, low numbers for gasoline alternatives are the direct result of gasoline being basically free in America. Around a buck a liter, and compare that to bottled water why don't you. And as long as it's free, not many people are going to care to switch, and we should think of raising the price of gasoline to affect change.

Kenzie said a Green Party leader in Canada makes the argument for taking care of the environment is that maybe, just maybe, the people worrying about global warming are wrong, then being energy-conscientious leads to a cleaner environment and money savings. On the other hand, what if the worriers are right? Either way, why not use less energy? You can hear a bit of Kenzie's speech here (MP3).

Mike Marshall, who worked on the recent J.D. Power and Associates Alternative Powertrain study, spoke next. The study looked at the "whys" and "why nots" of hybrid, diesel and flexible-fuel cars in a consumer's mind. 88 percent of the potential customers they talked to said reducing US dependence on foreign oil was something they "strongly" or "somewhat" agreed with, and one in five (19 percent) said that dangers of vehicle emissions are exaggerated.

If you've ever wondered about those people who don't read AutoblogGreen, this study has some insight into their minds. Roominess ("four doors") and reliability were the key factors for people buying new cars, and around a third (33 percent for hybrids, 41 percent for flexible fuels, 34 percent for diesel) of customers said they never thought about buying an alternative powertrain vehicle. Without a doubt, the two companies that ranked either first or second in all of the environmental categories in customer's minds who participated the study were Honda and Toyota. J.D. Power is putting a vehicle's green rating as determined by the study on their website.

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