GROTON — The connection between the mission of the Nashua River Watershed Association and the development of clean-fuel vehicles might not be immediately apparent, but according to NRWA development manager Lauri Johnson, the two are actually related.
“Part of the NRWA’s mission is to balance human and environmental needs and to find new ways to promote that,” Johnson said. “We appreciate the fact that some people are beginning to think outside the box in terms of hybrid technology.”
Johnson was referring to efforts by automotive engineers to develop fuel-efficient vehicles that either do not run on fossil fuels at all or that use a combination of gasoline and some other energy source such as electricity or hydrogen.
“It’s all interconnected,” added NRWA development director Drew Casey. “If we can have more efficient transportation, we can cut down on greenhouse gasses which indirectly helps the quality of our water. The hope is that (by promoting fuel-efficient vehicles) we can make people more aware of how they can contribute to a cleaner environment.”
To help promote hybrid technology, as well as increase awareness of the NRWA itself, the group has partnered with Peters Honda of Nashua, N.H., to raffle off a 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid, which uses a combination of gasoline and electricity to give it 50 mile per gallon performance on the open road.
According to David Boyce of Peters Honda, the Civic Hybrid does not need to be plugged in to recharge its electric battery; simply driving the car will keep it constantly recharged.
“I’ve sold tons of hybrids and get off on the technology,” admitted Boyce, who was present at the NRWA headquarters on Main Street last Thursday night to help introduce a film on electric-powered vehicles titled “Who Killed the Electric Car?”
“That’s why Peters Honda tapped me to come down and talk about different kinds of hybrids. We’ve been very successful in selling hybrid vehicles and believe me, it is not a scary thing,” Boyce said.
Present at the Jan. 25 screening of “Who Killed the Electric Car?” were about 50 people from throughout the region. Many were interested in seeing the development of motor vehicles that could free the country from its dependence on oil while at the same time being friendly to the environment.
The 90-minute film told the story of the first commercially-available electric car, developed by General Motors in the 1990s, which the automotive giant inexplicably yanked from production and even from the hands of owners, thus “killing” what seemed to be a promising and even popular first step in the evolution of an electric vehicle.
According to the film, electric-powered vehicles are not a new phenomenon, having been popular in the earliest days of the automobile. It was not until it became apparent that gasoline engines offered more power and greater speed that the switch became permanent and electric cars went the way of the dinosaur.
Created in response to an edict by the state of California that set benchmarks for alternate-fuel vehicles, General Motors’ EV-1 electric powered automobile rolled off the assembly line and into the hands of what appeared to be a public eager to own them.
But somewhere along the way, through a combination of competing interests, California was compelled to reverse its earlier mandate. As a result, auto makers ended efforts to develop alternate-fuel vehicles, including the EV-1.
Many in the United States are now acutely aware that the nation’s dependence on foreign oil makes it vulnerable to foreign interests. A race of sorts has begun among automakers to once again develop new lines of alternate-fuel vehicles, such as the Honda Civic Hybrid.
“I thought the film was excellent,” commented Brookline resident David Sheldon after seeing the film. “I own a hybrid vehicle myself and I always wondered why I haven’t seen more of them on the road. I was curious as to why that was, but now I understand what happened.”
In partnership with the NRWA, Peters Honda is raffling off one of its 2007 Honda Civic Hybrids, which was also on display at the group’s headquarters Thursday night.
For those interested in entering the raffle, tickets can be purchased for $20 each, with only 2,500 being sold. More information is available from the NRWA, which can be contacted either by phone at (978) 448-0299 or on the Internet at www.NashuaRiverWatershed.org.
Although the winner of the raffle will be chosen on the evening of Feb. 2, tickets can be purchased throughout the last day.