Green cars cruise through Vail |

Green cars cruise through Vail

Dustin Racioppi
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyBrothers Andrew Baumer, left, and Jason Baumer, right, check out the Vail, Colorado Mountain Haus's electric car as it sits next to the new BMW X5 Super Efficiency Clean Deisel, center, and the new Mercury Mariner Hybrid in Vail Thursday

VAIL, Colorado ” The future in automotive technology made a brief appearance in Vail Thursday.

To the untrained eye, the three cars and sports utility vehicles sitting in the Safeway parking lot simply blended into the rest of the parked cars and trucks. They weren’t your average cars, though.

They were the latest cars and SUVs that are either on the market or will be shortly, and their stop in Vail was part of a four-day event, dubbed the “green car convoy,” that is making its way around the state. The convoy’s tour of Colorado is a prelude to the Denver Auto Show, which is next week.

“(There’s a) concept that these are the cars of the future. We want people to understand these cars are at dealers now,” said Jim Czupor, one of the convoy drivers. “There’s a nice variety.”

The core group ” a Mercury Mariner hybrid, Volkswagen Touareg clean diesel and a BMW advanced diesel ” left Wednesday from Denver and headed to Montrose. At each stop along the way, the drivers are met by dealers and people interested in what these new cars have to offer “-which is mostly great gas mileage.

“It’s been really interesting,” Czupor said. “We’ve had dealers and news media greeting us at every city.”

In Vail, the group was met by Steve Hawkins, the managing director at Vail’s Mountain Haus, who rolled up to the parking lot in the hotel’s Toyota Rav-4 EV. It’s all electric and the Mountain Haus has used it for about a year. Hawkins, an advocate of the car’s technology, owns three himself. Like the Mountain Haus, he doesn’t worry too much about gas prices thanks to the Rav-4.

“We put about 12,000 miles a year on it and don’t use one gallon of gas,” he said. “It’s really great stuff.”

The other cars in the convoy can’t boast that kind of fuel efficiency, but they are leaders in their class when it comes down to great mileage.

Tim Jackson, president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, was driving the BMW and said it’s a leader in fuel-saving technology. The Environmental Protection Agency sticker says the SUV gets 580 miles on one tank of gas and emits 20 percent less carbon dioxide than a conventional SUV.

“Best in the class is the claim,” Jackson said.

He said the technology continues to get better, too. As that improves, then the cars will be more prevalent and at some point, they will replace conventional cars. The opportunity to put the new technology on the road is now, though.

“Ain’t it amazing they’re around and you don’t even know it?” Hawkins said.

Staff writer Dustin Racioppi can be reached at 970-748-2936 or

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