Archive for the ‘Holly’s World’ Category

Veggie oil fuels a Mercedes-Benz on a ride across the US

September 22nd, 2014

HEADLINE: Teens Drive Cross Country on Vegetable Oil, Diesel

Elan Fields and three of his high school buddies (including his older brother) drove a 1982 Mercedes 300D from Northampton, Mass., to Los Angeles in the summer of 2013. But this wasn’t your average “boys gone wild” trip across America. The vintage Mercedes had been converted by Elan and a friend to run on vegetable oil and diesel.
This is the kind of story that I love to chase, especially given that the guys (Elan Fields, Ben Cohen, Will Norris, and Raffi Fields) are so young and full of intent to make an impact on the future. Below, is a quick synopsis of my phone interview with Elan.
Holly: How did this idea of driving cross-country on veggie oil all start?
Elan: My friend Josh Hirschman and I came up with the idea of powering a car with a GreaseCar conversion kit. We bought the car on Craigslist and installed the kit into the car in my garage. We did it as an independent study project through our high school and I started fundraising using a Facebook page.
H: Why did you decide to take the trip?
E: We’re interested in promoting green energy. We come from Northampton, Massachusetts, a town with lots of environmental awareness; however, we know that this isn’t the case everywhere in America. The trip basically served as a vehicle (no pun intended) for us to combine our passions for automotive mechanics, environmentalism, and travel into one cohesive project. It was also for fun!
H: You mentioned that there was another reason for the drive.
E: By the time we began planning the trip, I had been struggling with a diagnosis of severe ulcerative colitis for more than two and a half years. I was put in contact with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) through my doctor, and over the course of our journey across the country, I helped raise money and awareness for the organization, by sending them photos to upload to their Facebook page. I felt really fulfilled and glad to be able to share my story and help others by raising funds for research and better treatments for other youths dealing with this disease.
H: How was the ride? You said that you didn’t have air-conditioning?
E: True. By the time we had successfully converted the car to run on vegetable oil there was very little time for other projects before our departure. We wanted to be able to have air-conditioning but our research on the issue showed it was a more complicated repair than we had time for. So we decided to just take off! And yes, it was extremely hot at times. Most of the time we had the windows open.
H: Where did you get the veggie oil?
E: We got oil from a lot of very different sources. The original plan was to stop at McDonald’s and other fast food restaurants along the way; however, as it turns out, getting used vegetable oil is not nearly that easy anymore due to resource capitalization.
We started off with a large supply of oil provided to us by a local alternative fuels supplier, which gave us a great start. We pretty much improvised from there, finding it in such places as a Cleveland restaurant (one out of what felt like hundreds that we called), a friendly Nebraskan farmer who we contacted through Craigslist on the way, another alternative fuels supplier in Denver, a chef friend of ours, and an interesting encounter with a “supplier” near Milwaukee.
H: You must have been carrying a heavy load in the trunk! What was your fuel economy?
E: We got approximately 20 mpg. The way the system worked, we would start the car running on diesel for just a short few minutes until the vegetable oil in the auxiliary tank sufficiently heated up, and then we would switch the car to exclusively drive on the vegetable oil.
H: Did the oil smell?
E: Haha! Yes, the whole car smelled like French fries!
H: How long did the trip take?
E: The drive from Northampton, Massachusetts, to Los Angeles took two weeks. The original plan was to drive to LA, do a quick turn-around, and drive back. But once we reached LA, my brother and I decided to hang around LA for two more weeks. We sold the car on Craigslist for a pretty good price.
H: What do you drive now?
E: A 1977 MGB convertible and I’m working on a 2005 MINI Cooper.
H: Any future plans for conversion?
E: I don’t see myself converting another vehicle to run on vegetable oil in the near future, but I would never say it’s out of the question. I’m currently finishing up repairs on my MINI and very soon I will leave with my friend Josh (who helped with the vegetable oil conversion) to embark on another cross-country adventure. This is the start to my gap year before college and Josh’s year off after one year at college. We plan to explore and discover the amazing open road and learn as much as we can through experiencing new things.

– Holly Reich, Motor Matters

Manufacturer Photo: L-to-R: Elan Fields, Ben Cohen, Will Norris, and Raffi Fields traveled from Massachusetts to California in 1982 Mercedes powered by a GreaseCar conversion kit. The teens were interested in promoting green energy. The trip served as a vehicle to combine passions for automotive mechanics, environmentalism, and travel into one cohesive project.

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2014

The VW Golf Goes Into Target: Funny or Die

September 10th, 2014

Living the Bentley Lifestyle

September 8th, 2014

Here’s what it feels like to buy a Bentley!

Jaguar F-Type Coupe

August 27th, 2014

It’s good to be bad! And you are when you drive this coupe!

Volvo’s E-Drive

August 27th, 2014

Goodbye to the V8. VOLVO goes global with E-Drive

3 SUVs for NYC

June 12th, 2014

SUV’s for NYC: See here

Tea or Coffee? My trip to the jungles of Ecuador

May 14th, 2014

Read it here!

Monday’s ride in a Rolls-Royce Wraith

April 21st, 2014

A memorable time in a Rolls-Royce Wraith.

For Earth Week: green reporting from DC Auto Show

April 19th, 2014


Automotive Industry Goes Green: 2014 DC Auto Show

Ladies, the DC Auto Show isn’t about glamour as much as it’s about policy making and the future of the car industry. In honor of Earth Month, we’ve collected information from the DC auto show to share more about the greening of automotive.

NissanTaxi-11.2013-7_mediumFront page: For the 2014 Washington Auto Show, Nissan rented an Amtrak train car and ferried a group of journalists from Penn Station, NYC to Washington, D.C. Since the show took place during an epic East Coast snowstorm, the train was both a pleasant and efficient way to arrive. And it’s consistent with Nissan’s push into the future of environmental changes. That objective encompasses Nissan’s NV200 vehicles (the taxicab of the future and NYC’s official taxicab) as well as some new initiatives they are rolling out with FedEx.

The scoop: The Washington Auto Show is known as the “Public Policy Show.” It is unique on the global industry circuit because of its proximity to the U.S. Congress, international diplomatic corps and federal agencies.

When it launched in 1921, the show’s purpose was for 20 Washington-area car dealers and distributors to sell the public on the horseless carriage! The show continued for 18 years in the National Guard D.C. Armory and went on hiatus twice – once for war and once due to poor economic conditions.
In early 1983, The Washington Auto Show found a new home at the recently opened Washington Convention Center. By this time, the event had grown to cover almost eight acres – nearly four times the size of the Armory shows, with three times as many models.
Today, the Washington Auto Show, now held in late January to coincide with Congress’ return from recess, capitalizes on the business of Washington. It has become one of the industry’s most prominent events that also include automotive shows in Detroit, Chicago, LA and NYC.

The Green Game-Changers:

From Ford: Keynote speaker, Ford Motor Company Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields, announced new projects with Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University to research and create solutions to the technical challenges surrounding automated driving, the key to Ford’s Blueprint for Mobility. The blueprint outlines what transportation will look like in 2025 and beyond. With its automated Fusion Hybrid research vehicle, Ford is exploring potential solutions for the longer-term societal, legislative and technological issues posed by a future of fully automated driving.

$50 million in funding: U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced $50 million in funding for fuel-efficient vehicles. The investment includes backing for the Department of Energy’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, a program launched in March 2012 to make plug-in EV’s more affordable and convenient than gas-powered vehicles within the next ten years.
Moniz noted, “The new research and development funding announced today will help support our domestic automakers’ continued growth and make sure that the next generation of advanced technology vehicles are built right here in America.”


From Nissan:
Eric Gottfried, Director Customer Quality for Nissan North America, said that Leaf sales have grown to 100,000.

In my interview with Gottfried he noted, “Almost every time we do research we find that the Leaf becomes the most used car in the house. In fact he noted that Nissan has heard that people fight over the use of the Leaf because it’s the fun car to drive.

“It’s innovation on a budget,” he stated. “A fair number of our customers have two Leafs… it’s the kind of car that populates Facebook pages.”

FedEx Express and Nissan will also begin testing the Nissan e-NV200, a 100 percent electric compact cargo vehicle in Washington, D.C. as part of FedEx’s EarthSmart program. This effort aligns with Nissan’s “Blue Citizenship” initiative that focuses on increasing the number of vehicles that emit no greenhouse gases.

2013_Los_Angeles_Auto_Show-Hyundai_Tucson_hydrogen_fuel_cell-front_viewFrom Hyundai: The Tucson Fuel Cell will be available in spring 2014.
Mike Moran, Hyundai Vice President of corporate and product planning, noted, “Hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles represent the next generation of zero-emission vehicle technology. The range and refueling speed of our Tucson Fuel Cell is superior to the range and charging limitations of competing battery electric vehicles.”

From Toyota: Toyota’s fuel cell concept, FCV, planned for 2015, is an electric drive vehicle with a range of 300 miles. The FCV mixes hydrogen and oxygen with emissions of …. H20!
“Savvy consumers have been waiting to see an active change in fuel cell development, and we’re almost ready to hit the streets,” said Toyota’s Vice President of North American Business Strategy, Nihar Patel.

2014-Cadillac-ELR-front_beautyFrom Cadillac: Cadillac ELR received the Green Car Journal‘s 2014 Green Car Technology Award™. Cadillac Director of Emerging Markets Jim Vurpillat, said, “The Cadillac ELR “marries the fun-to-drive characteristics with electric propulsion and wrapped it in a beautiful package…We have a 112-year history, but it feels like a startup. We have momentum on our side.”

To wrap it all up, Warren Brown, award-winning Washington Post columnist, noted. “We are moving towards the autonomous car, which many people call the “driver-less” or “self-driving” car. The first manufacturer to produce a safe, reliable, retail worthy version of such an automobile will win the race to control the future of the car. Nearly every major car manufacturer is involved in the contest.”
Brown explained that the objective is to maximize traffic safety.

“Autonomous driving technology is designed to significantly reduce fatal mistakes (on the road). Examples include lane monitoring and blind-side detection systems, parking monitors and more,” he noted.

“The aim is to produce more than gee-whiz automotive technology.”

2014 Toyota Highlander and Charleston, South Carolina

April 8th, 2014

A day in Charleston, South Carolina with the 2014 Toyota Highlander: