Driving Green at the FAIR

Reader Contribution by Rebecca Martin
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One of the first things I do at any MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR is locate the Ford test drive booth and decide which green vehicle I’m going to take out for a spin.

It didn’t take me long to find the Ford display at the 2015 Asheville, N.C., FAIR, where Ford Motor Co. was a title sponsor. Ford’s electric-blue tent drew many visitors with the promise of a chance at winning prizes, including a vehicle of their choice. But, to my way of thinking, the opportunity to test-drive a Ford hybrid car was prize enough.

Among the Ford vehicles available for test-drives at Asheville were the C-MAX hybrid, the Fusion hybrid, and the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid. I chose the plug-in hybrid and sank into the driver’s seat while Tiffany, the Ford representative, settled in on the passenger’s side. We rolled out of a side gate on the fairgrounds and began a quiet tour of the Asheville terrain as Tiffany pointed out the Ford plug-in hybrid’s features. Each time I braked, the Energi’s dashboard display screen showed the value of the car’s regenerative braking, as the lithium-ion battery pack captured and stored kinetic energy to boost the overall gas mileage.

According to Tiffany, Asheville FAIR visitors understand that gas prices are going to go up again, and they want to be prepared for that eventuality. The energy savings represented by the Ford hybrid cars at the FAIR attracted many people. Tiffany also encountered some owners of non-Ford hybrids who, she said, sought vehicles with better battery reliability and a higher comfort level.

In an exceptionally flat landscape such as Tiffany’s native Arizona, or in my native Kansas, hybrids can get great mileage. Tiffany described a friend living in Arizona who averages more than 560 miles per tank with his Ford hybrid.

As we drove back onto the fairgrounds at the end of our Ford test-drive, I sensed that Tiffany was a bit distracted. We said our goodbyes and, before we parted, Tiffany pulled out her phone to glance at the clock. She exclaimed, “Oh good, just in time to see a chicken get processed!” and rushed off to join hundreds of fairgoers watch Joel Salatin and David Schafer’s live poultry demonstration on the main stage.

Such is a MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR: the juxtaposition of a Ford hybrid’s comfort and homesteading’s gritty reality. Both are practical and informative experiences that we’re happy to bring to fairgoers.

Please visit theFAIR websitefor more information about future FAIRs: June 6-7 in Albany, Ore.; Aug. 8-9 in West Bend, Wis.; Sept. 18-20 in Seven Springs, Pa.; and Oct. 24-25 in Topeka, Kan. Tickets are on sale now.

You can also get FAIR updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Rebecca Martin is an Associate Editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, where her beats include DIY and Green Transportation. She’s an avid cyclist and has never met a vegetable she didn’t like.