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Test-drive a new green car

Drive Revolution lets you go behind the wheel next month


by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - A Portland motorist test-drives a new all-electric version of Smart Fortwo, made by Mercedes-Benz. The microcars are just now arriving in Mercedes dealerships around town for sale or lease.Want to test drive the latest alternative-fuel vehicles?

A large selection will be on hand for the public to take a spin at Drive Revolution, a July 13 event at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

The event is expected to feature electric, hybrid, biofuel and so-called clean-diesel vehicles from Audi, General Motors, Honda, Kia, Lexus, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Smart, Toyota and Volkswagen.

Drive Revolution is being organized by OMSI and the Northwest Automotive Press Association, a group of automotive writers and videographers.

The event is designed to showcase the latest in sustainable transportation options for cars as well as bikes, rail and other public transit.

“It’s a way to spread the word about alternative ways to get around and some amazing advances in car technology,” says Andrea Middleton, OMSI events director.

Bengt Halvorson from the Northwest Automotive Press Association is helping line up the vehicles.

“EVs and clean-diesels — along with plug-in hybrids and hybrids — are being included because they represent strategies in which automakers are using ‘revolutionary’ and different technologies to wean us off a dependence on fossil fuels and reduce our carbon footprint,” Halvorson says.

The vehicles also will be tested by automotive writers for two days before the public event. Such tests are becoming common in Portland, which has gained a national reputation for its public charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.

Mercedes-Benz recently chose Portland to help launch the new electric version of its Smart Fortwo microcar. Mercedes officials say 685 test drives were conducted from a public staging area in Portland’s Pearl District from May 3 through May 5. The all-electric cars are just now arriving in Mercedes’ dealerships for sale or lease.

“It’s exciting to offer the opportunity to speak with engineers who develop today’s auto innovations, and to get hands-on by test-driving vehicles,” Middleton says. The event also will offer information on how to navigate Portland’s transit system or bike with confidence around town.