California Fuel Cell Partnership Rally Thru The Valley
5/14/03 to 5/16/03
Daily Web Log
Day 3 - 5/16/03 - Bakersfield to Los Angeles
Crossing mountain passes has been an arduous task throughout history, presenting challenges of terrain, climatic change, and the unknown appearing over each new hilltop. Many a horse has died and a mule train stalled climbing the next ridge.
The Honda FCX team and its California Fuel Cell Partnership allies today pitted the latest automotive technologies against one of Southern California's most notorious highway passes - "The Grapevine."
This steep grade along Interstate 5 is a long-distance trucker's nightmare, a wide ribbon of asphalt that leads up the Tejon Pass out of the San Joaquin Valley over the mountains that rim the southern flank of the valley into the sprawling Los Angeles basin. High winds, dust storms and sudden weather changes are regular occurrences. Breakdowns are common.
Transit through this pass is as unpredictable as the weather. Today was no different. Still, the Honda FCX breezed up the grade at freeway speeds (and even beyond when the California Highway Patrol escort allowed) without so much as a hiccup.
The immediate reward was a refreshing stop next to Lake Castaic, where the partnership's participating fuel cell vehicles topped off their hydrogen fuel, a quick and easy process.
Then it was on to the first of two stops in the Los Angeles area. Waiting for the fuel cell parade at the Los Angeles Zoo parking lot was LA Deputy Mayor Brian Williams, who drove to the event in one of the city's leased Honda FCXs.
Today was an unofficial day of mourning in the city due to the abrupt termination last night of the Lakers' three-year reign as NBA champions. Williams made reference to the somber observance while happily welcoming the Fuel Cell Partnership crews to his city.
KABC-TV reporter and auto enthusiast Dave Kunz was one of the first to take the FCX on the driving course set up at the Griffith Park parade, which also featured a children's play and a public ride-and-drive.
Today was a typically smoggy day in LA, featuring the kind of haze that makes this city famous around the world. This air quality backdrop underscored the need for reduced auto emissions in an area where the nearby hills are often only faintly visible.
The three-day rally ended at an appropriate spot - the Petersen Automotive Museum, a place known for celebrating the history of the automobile and the culture that has grown up around it. Today, something new was celebrated: the fuel cell vehicle.
Five fuel cell vehicles were on display while the Partnership teams celebrated the successful demonstration of this promising technology. Each had completed the 400-mile trek down the San Joaquin Valley, over the Grapevine and into LA. Each has the next challenge to look forward to.
Honda's FCX completed the trip without missing a beat. Team manager Shiro Matsuo congratulated his fellow team members who participated and all those behind the scenes who helped the FCX illustrate the "state of the art" from Sacramento to Los Angeles.