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Power play for a green highway Add to ...

Canada needs to create a coast-to-coast green highway, similar to the one already in place on the west coast of the United States, a national electric vehicle conference in Toronto heard this week.

Electric Mobility Canada, the non-profit organization that organized the conference, has already proposed the general plan to the federal government in Ottawa, and is unveiling the vision to the public to start the conversation, said Mike Elwood, chair of the EMC board and vice-president of marketing at Azure Dynamics. It is hoping to turn up the volume on the call for the federal government to support alternative energy.

“We’re not saying stop supporting oil production, we’re just saying if you put a dollar there, put a dollar here,” said Elwood in an interview at EV 2011. It is the group’s third national conference, attracting delegates from across Canada, but particularly strong contingents from British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario.

The response from the federal government has been to agree to discuss it, at conferences such as this and other industry meetings, which is better than in 2009, when there was no talk about electric vehicles at all, said Elwood. “If actions speak louder than words, so far, there hasn’t been a lot of action.”

Elwood stresses that the group is looking for the government to consider all sorts of alternative power initiatives to make a national green highway work, and not just installing a string of electric vehicle chargers 120 km apart all across the country.

“It’s not just an electric highway, because that’s not the solution, it is a part of the solution,” said Elwood. The group foresees additions made to current or future “Alternative Energy Stations” that will offer gas and diesel fuels, but also add EV chargers – ideally powered by renewable resources – as well as ethanol blends, biodiesel, natural gas and other clean-burning fuels.

Ferrari launches winter driving school

The launch of the new Ferrari FF hatchback has prompted the Italian super-car maker to offer its first winter driving school in North America, which will feature the all-wheel-drive Ferrari, although the school will be limited to Ferrari owners for now.

Based on the Corso Pilota winter driving program that sent Ferrari F430s out to an ice track smoothed over in the Italian Alps on spiked tires, this one will be based in Aspen, Colo. Snow and ice courses will be laid out for the fleet of eight FFs, with the first of the two-day schools starting in January, 2012. Course cost: $11,300 (U.S.) , plus $950 for a guest.

That doesn’t include your flight or transfer to and from the tony Little Nell Resort in Aspen.

In the rarefied Ferrari family, it will be a memorable if pricey way to demonstrate the FF’s new and innovative 4RM all-wheel-drive system, and according to Ferrari, “highlight the versatility and functionality of the all-new model.” Which could very well be the first time that the passion-led, performance-first company preaches a model’s practicality, especially in winter. 

New safety systems monitor 360 degrees

With intelligent radar-based braking systems now on the market from Volvo and Mercedes-Benz that can bring your vehicle to a complete stop if it senses an imminent collision, various suppliers are working to expand such systems to monitor the sides and rear of the vehicle as well.

The systems use advanced types of radar, and in some cases video cameras, to provide a 360-degree safety cushion around the car, with the more advanced patch radar allowing the car to see and potentially slow down for an increasing number of dangerous situations, said a report in trade journal Automotive News. 

For side collisions, the most difficult to detect and avoid, the systems being developed by Tier One suppliers TRW and Delphi would not necessarily take evasive action, but would “pre-charge” the necessary airbags, or alert the driver to the danger.

Such systems could be in place by 2015, but intelligent cruise control systems that automatically slow down the car when other vehicles enter its path, as well as lane departure systems that keep the car in its intended lane, will be expanded first, the suppliers said. That’s to ensure that auto makers and customers are confident in these systems that briefly take control of the car – and that’s no guarantee – before such features such as emergency braking are more widely implemented. 

T-shirts celebrate Enzo’s Targa swim  

The Canadian owner of a pumped-up Ferrari Enzo that ended up in the water at this year’s Targa Newfoundland, and became an online star because of it, is now selling joke T-shirts to commemorate – or help commiserate over – the unfortunate incident. 

In a remarkably good-natured display of making lemonade after his bright-yellow, 860-hp Ferrari super car became a water-logged lemon, the car’s owner and driver Zahir Rana unveiled the T-shirt design on the Facebook page of his Calgary exotic car dealership, ZR Exotics.

Rana’s naturally aspirated V12 Enzo is among the fastest road-going Ferraris in the world, and designed to approach the tuning of the track-only FXX super car, according to Rana, who last year told the Edmonton Journal that the Enzo had been clocked at 392 km/h while testing by German tuning company Edo Competition.

Rana organized a race between his Ferrari Enzo and a Canadian F-18 Hornet at a Canadian Forces Base in Cold Lake, Alta., in September, 2010, the highlight for an event that allowed exotic car owners to run their cars at high speeds on the base’s long runways. That event was called Race the Base, with whispers of a 2012 edition now floating about online.

ZR Auto’s Facebook page says the Enzo is headed back to Edo in Germany for refreshing and retuning, and that it will hopefully run at Targa again next year. The video of the Enzo fish-tailing on a straight, taking out a fence going backward, and sliding down a hill and directly into the water has been viewed online more than two million times.

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