I rarely drive cars these days. But recently, Volkswagen convinced me to test drive their clean-burning Touareg TDI SUV. The test drive was to take place in Washington DC, which is about 30 miles from my home. This meant that I wouldn't have to fly anywhere, which was great. A couple of years ago, I decided that I would not fly, unless it was absolutely necessary.
My Bike: A folding Dahon Jack
So my wife and I saddled up our bikes, and we biked from our house to the local bus station.
We secured our bikes at the station, and took a bus which spirited us away to a Metro station. Once there, we rode the Metro to DC. We exited the subway, and walked briskly to our hotel. Once there I was immediately swept up into Volkswagen's green lifestyle event.
An organic meal at Wolfgang Puck's DC Restaurant "The Source"
We toured some of the greenest restaurants in DC, including The Source by Wolfgang Puck, and a restaurant on Capitol Hill called Sonoma. Both restaurants served delicious organic meals featuring many locally-produced ingredients.
We then took a challenge with Volkswagen's Touareg TDI. The challenge was to get the best mileage in the Touareg while driving from DC to Annapolis. I decided to do some serious hypermiling on the way. Unfortunately, I took a wrong turn somewhere, got lost, and then decided to hit the accelerator. The on-board GPS came in handy. I came in second in terms of miles per gallon, with an average of 22 MPG.
While at Annapolis, I switched to a 100% wind powered vehicle, namely, a sailboat. I appreciated the simplicity of sailing, and reflected on what a calming, green mode of transportation it is. Another nice feature of the sailboat was that it was run by a company whose offices are 100% wind powered.
I then car-pooled back to DC in the Touareg. This vehicle joins the Jetta TDI and the Jetta SportsWagen TDI in Volkswagen's clean diesel lineup. Clean diesel is a technology that actually lives up to its name pretty well. The dirty diesel-burning vehicles of the 1970s are no longer the norm. Today, 97% of highway diesel fuel pumps are now dispensing Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) — this greatly reduces the particulate matter emissions from diesel engines.
The Touareg has a diesel particulate filter to further reduce particulate emissions, and it has uses a NOx-storage catalyst, which is basically a reservoir that temporarily holds the noxious emissions, like a particulate filter, until they can be burned off during one of the engine cycles. Because of this, it is one of the first cars to qualify a Tier II Bin 5 vehicle (equivalent to California's LEV II rating), therefore allowing it to be sold in all 50 U.S. states.
Link: Touareg TDI Website