Fair highlights fuel-efficient cars

Earth-conscious Columbians share their decision to buy environmentally friendly automobiles.
Sunday, October 26, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:50 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 1, 2008


The print version of this story about the Sustainable Living Fair should have said the car models in development as hybrids are the Toyota Highlander, Toyota

Sienna Minivan, Lexus Luxury and the Ford Escape.

Despite the rain and crowds of people celebrating the Homecoming game, the Sustainable Lifestyle Fair attracted a turnout of about 140 people Saturday.

“We wanted to have a fair that had a broad focus — something for everyone,” said Greg Baka, the Center for Sustainable Living co-coordinator for the fair.

While the center has put on fairs about energy and other conservation techniques before, Baka wanted something more all-encompassing for this event. The workshops and booths at the fair covered topics that ranged from recycling and energy efficiency in homes to alternative vehicles and fuel sources. The fair was sponsored by the Center for Sustainable Living and Mid-Missouri Peaceworks.

“People from different fields sharing their ideas — that’s a great thing,” Baka said.

Among those gathered were Jim Nolte and Jan Weaver, who were asked to show off their electric cars at the fair.

It may have started out as a joke, but when Nolte bought his electric car four years ago, he didn’t realize he was on his way to a more sustainable lifestyle.

“I told my daughter I was going to buy something small and slow to teach her how to drive in. I knew where this car was sitting, and I showed it to her and said ‘there, that’s your car,’ ” Nolte said.

Nolte bought the fuel-efficient 1976-model car four years ago for $150.

However, newer models of fuel-efficient cars are now on the market with a sport utility vehicle, a mini-van and a luxury car on the way in the spring.

Jan Weaver, owner of a hybrid Honda Insight, came to the fair to talk to people about the future of alternative vehicles.

“My husband and I had been interested in getting a hybrid when we first heard about them,” Weaver said. “So we kept track of when Toyota and Honda were introducing them in the United States. Honda just happened to get to Columbia before Toyota did.”

Weaver spoke at one of the workshops at the fair, leading a discussion on which fuel sources for cars were more environmentally friendly.

While Nolte’s electric car does drive, it does not drive fast, averaging 35 to 38 mph. It can only travel about 30 to 35 miles per charge. He charges his car overnight.

“My daughter likes it because it turns heads when she drives it,” Weaver said.

Nolte, however, drives a Ford Explorer. He wants to keep a four-wheel drive vehicle, but may consider trading it in for a more fuel-friendly vehicle when hybrid SUVs become more mainstream.

That day could come sooner than some might think. Jill Miller of the Sierra Club says hybrid models such as a Saturn VUE SUV, an Audi A6 and A8, and some Volvo models are in development.

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