Torrance, Calif. 05/14/2003 -- Honda FCX
California Fuel Cell Partnership Rally Thru The Valley
5/14/03 to 5/16/03
Daily Web Log
Day 1 - 5/14/03 - Sacramento to Fresno
The Honda fuel cell team rolled down the highway today in the center of what many people call "America's Salad Bowl" because of the agricultural significance of the region. For the next few days - from Sacramento to Fresno to Bakersfield and, finally, Los Angeles - the multinational Honda team is taking the story of the Honda FCX through four of the 10 smoggiest urban areas in the United States - Fresno, Bakersfield, Visalia and Los Angeles. Honda Team members lead five other fuel cell vehicles south along some 200 miles of Highway 99 on the first day of the three-day run.
In the days of the Old West, as depicted in "The Big Valley," this trek would have been long, hot and dusty, with occasional road hazards such as a slipped horseshoe, a trail washout, or a holdup at gunpoint.
Along the way on Day 1, top national journalists, state political leaders, government officials - legislators, mayors, city council members - and the public got a chance to experience the Honda vehicle's state-of-the-art zero emission driving.
Carl Hall of the San Francisco Chronicle got the first chance to ride in the FCX, making the 20-minute trip from the California Fuel Cell Partnership's West Sacramento headquarters to the State Capitol.
Mark Vaughn, from the national weekly auto enthusiast magazine AutoWeek, jumped in and took a ride from the capitol down the highway to Stockton, then, later, drove the leg from Merced to Fresno City Hall.
Matt Nauman, auto editor of San Jose Mercury News, drove Honda's FCX for his first time from Stockton to Merced, with Dr. Alan Lloyd, chairman of the California Fuel Cell Partnership and the Air Resources Board, as his co-pilot in the front passenger seat.
Everyone who piloted the FCX noted its technology advancements: a quiet ride, long range (up to 220 miles), and the unique Honda Ultra Capacitor, which stores electric energy and releases it much more efficiently than a normal battery for quick bursts of acceleration when needed.
The day was filled with not only journalists driving the FCX. It also featured proclamations, speeches, fanfare, and plenty of time for the public to get up close and personal with vehicles that have never been seen in much of the Central Valley.
Members of the public eagerly lined up at scenic Roeding Park in Fresno for the opportunity to ride in the FCX and other fuel cell vehicles -- and to eat hot dogs, 325 of them, in fact.
Even at stops where the public was not allowed to ride along, elementary school children, senior citizens and others pored over the vehicles and devoured all of the information the FCX team could offer.
All in all, Day 1 of the Rally thru the Valley was, literally, an opportunity for residents of the Big Valley to experience the future of the automobile, much the same way their predecessors a century ago experienced the valley's long and dusty trails on their new horseless carriages.