Okay, maybe it didn't play out exactly like that, but whether you're a petition-waving ecophile who wants a car that runs on compost or a hard-nosed businessman who just wants a better bottom line, it's difficult to deny that our singular reliance on gas has become decidedly deadly. Hip to that notion for years, the Gold Coast Clean Air Coalition has been helping county and corporate fleets in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties (as well as Martin and Monroe, as of last year) make the switch to alternative-fuel vehicles (AFVs) since 1994. Currently the coalition counts about 2000 AFVs in its region, says coordinator Larry Merritt. AFVs can be anything from cars to buses to trucks to bikes that run on electricity, ethanol, methane, biodiesel, propane, compressed natural gas, hydrogen (a ways off, says Merritt), or some hybrid thereof. This Wednesday, in honor of Clean Air Month, you can inspect and/or test drive several such rigs (all currently on the road) at the "Tomorrow's Cars Today" exhibition, part of the annual Environmental Essentials conference, presented by the Clean Air Coalition, Miami-Dade's Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM), and the University of Florida TREEO Center. Opening with a welcome by Miami-Dade County Manager Steve Shiver, the conference offers twenty sessions on topics such as "What to Expect from a DERM Inspection," geared toward helping public- and private-sector industry types learn about environmental standards (save a few seats for Governor and President Bush).
And in case you were wondering, yes, there are AFV SUVs on the market, such as the Toyota EV RAV4, which Merritt has tried out himself and endorses heartily: "It is so much fun to drive, but the problem is, it's only available by lease, and you can't get it on the East Coast. You can only get it in California." Shame.