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Recharge Wrap-up: 61 miles on Autopilot; Mazda CX-9's 32% mpg improvement

8 US cities form the Energy Secure Cities Coalition.

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A technology analyst at The Motley Fool used Tesla's Autopilot uninterrupted for 61 miles. In order to see how far the Tesla Model S could drive itself without driver intervention, Daniel Sparks set off on the highway from Monument, Colorado, through Colorado Springs and onward toward Pueblo. Only when a truck encroached on his lane did the driver take command of the wheel, rather than waiting to see what the car would do. "With [the] Model S nearly out of Pueblo and onto a long, boring stretch of highway by the time I had to grab the wheel, chances are I could have made it all the way to Colorado City if it wasn't for this interruption," says Sparks. Read the full account at The Motley Fool.

The 2016 Mazda CX-9 offers 32 percent better fuel economy than the outgoing model. The front-wheel-drive CX-9, equipped with Mazda's Skyactiv-G 2.5T engine, gets an EPA-estimated 22 mpg city/28 mpg highway/25 mpg combined. The 2016 CX-9 has shed significant weight compared to its predecessor. Its turbocharged engine uses a Dynamic Pressure Turbo system, which improves performance at lower rpm by controlling the degree of exhaust pulsation according to engine speed. The new CX-9 goes on sale this spring. Read more at Green Car Congress.

A group of eight US cities have formed the Energy Secure Cities Coalition (ESCC), pledging to switch their fleets over to alternative fuels. Atlanta, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Orlando, Rochester, Sacramento, San Diego and West Palm Beach will retire their petroleum-powered vehicles in favor of EVs and cars using cleaner fuels like natural gas. The cities expect the change to help improve air quality and save taxpayer money on fuel and maintenance costs. The ESCC hopes to grow to include 25 major cities, removing some 50,000 petroleum-fueled vehicles from service and saving 500,000 barrels of oil per year. Read more in the press release below.

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Eight Major Cities Unite to form Energy Secure Cities Coalition—Fleets Embracing Alternative Fuels to Improve America's National and Economic Security

Coalition's goal is to retire 50,000 petroleum-powered vehicles, saving tens of millions in taxpayer dollars and improving U.S. national and economic security.

Washington, D.C. – A group of medium and large-size cities from around the country announced the launch of the Energy Secure Cities Coalition (ESCC), a partnership of communities dedicated to transitioning their municipal fleets from petroleum-fueled vehicles to those powered by alternative fuels, like electricity and natural gas. Each ESCC city has the potential to improve quality of life for its residents as well as boost its economic competitiveness—regionally and globally—by saving millions of valuable taxpayer dollars over the next decade through the lower fuel and vehicle maintenance costs of alternative fuel vehicles.

The Energy Secure Cities Coalition includes Atlanta, Ga.; Charlotte, N.C.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Orlando, Fla.; Rochester, N.Y.; Sacramento Calif.; San Diego, Calif.; and West Palm Beach, Fla.

The ESCC plans to grow to at least 25 cities with the goal of taking 50,000 petroleum-powered vehicles off the road, saving 500,000 barrels of oil every year and protecting city budgets from volatile and unpredictable global oil prices, directly influenced by geopolitical instability and conflict. Fleets are some of the largest single fuel consumers in a given city and represent an opportunity to jump-start a community's effort to reduce its dependence on oil, promote fuel diversity, and set an example for other cities across the country to follow.

"Advanced fuel vehicles are a critical part of Atlanta's sustainability plan as they help us transition from expensive gas guzzling cars to clean-fueled vehicles that use cutting-edge technology. Partners like Securing America's Future Energy help us make the case that electric vehicles not only make environmental sense, but also protect our national security by reducing our reliance on oil," said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

Atlanta plans to deploy one of the largest electric vehicle fleets in the United States, starting with putting 50 EVs and plug-in hybrids to work for the city government. This first step in cutting Atlanta's dependence on oil will save approximately 550-600 gallons of fuel per vehicle every year and reduce maintenance costs by 40 percent.

"Technologies like electric and natural gas vehicles safeguard our city budgets from unpredictable oil prices and diversify the fuels that power our fleet," said former Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. "Together, Energy Secure Cities Coalition members can make a substantial dent in U.S. oil consumption while also leading the nation to greater energy security." Ballard's alternative fuel "Freedom Fleet" served as inspiration behind creating the ESCC. Ballard's plan to upgrade 425 non-police pursuit sedans to plug-in hybrid and pure electric vehicles would save Indianapolis $8.7 million over ten years.

"The City of Orlando is committed to taking the steps necessary to preserve our natural resources for our children and future generations to come," said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. "That's why we pledged to run city fleet vehicles on 100 percent renewable resources by 2030 as part of our Green Works Orlando sustainability initiative and we are proud to join with other cities in this effort as part of the national Energy Secure Cities Coalition."

"The City of Rochester is committed to reducing the use of petroleum fuels by incorporating alternative fuel vehicles into its municipal fleet," said Mayor Lovely A. Warren. "Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our community is helping us advance toward our goal of creating more jobs, safer and more vibrant communities, and better educational opportunities for our children."

Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer said, "The City of San Diego isn't just a city dedicated to clean technology and renewable energy, we're a city dedicated to being a global leader in environmental sustainability. In San Diego, we united local environmental, business and government leaders to enact one of the most ambitious climate action plans in the country, which includes increasing the number of zero emission vehicles in our municipal fleet to 90 percent by 2035. I'm proud to join this collaborative nationwide campaign to show we can help to make our world a cleaner, safer place."

"West Palm Beach is committed to lowering our carbon footprint," said Mayor Jeri Muoio. "That is why we have joined the Energy Secure Cities Coalition and pledged to transition our municipal vehicles off fossil fuels by 2025. A pledge to use alternative fuels for our city's vehicles is a pledge to ensure a sustainable future."

"With 92 percent of U.S. transportation powered by a single fuel—oil—our local economies remain dangerously exposed to a volatile, unpredictable global oil market," said SAFE President and CEO Robbie Diamond. "Cities are our havens for innovation, and these eight mayors are leading the charge, demonstrating to the rest of the nation that fuel diversity means greater economic security for their cities and taxpayers. We hope others—both citizens and cities—follow their example."

The Energy Secure Cities Coalition offers participating cities a network to learn from each other before, during and after the fleet conversion process, participating in a forum in which municipalities can share best practices on communicating their goals, engaging their communities, recognizing obstacles and solving problems. The ESCC is a project of its member cities in collaboration with Securing America's Future Energy and the Electrification Coalition. Learn more at and on Twitter at @EnergySecureCC.

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