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The New Model T

Henry Ford revolutionized the automotive industry with his Model T back in 1908. He claimed the customer could have a car “any color that he wanted, so long as it was black”.

It was a car designed for the masses, from the well-heeled, affluent captains of industry to the lowly assembly-line workers.  Ford’s vehicles, though made with the highest quality materials, were extremely affordable.

We have journeyed over a century away from the launch of the Model T, and as Ian Clifford indicates, we might just be “on the verge of very, very significant change, very disruptive change, sort of at a scale that we haven’t seen for a very long time.”

Model T Ford Roadster

The thought of an electric car is a bit like the concept of 3D films; the idea is old, the concept has taken off a few times and failed, but we might just be getting closer to making it happen for good.

Hybrids have been on the market for a few years now, and several companies such as Dynasty Electric Cars, Miles Electric Vehicles, Global Electric Motorcars and Clifford’s ZENN Motor Company are pushing the boundaries of electric car technology.

The fact that these cars are still not easily accessible is due not only to their currently inflated prices, but also to the electrical power overload that this whole transition implies for our current electrical supply.

Tesla Roadster, all-electric sports car, charging

The future of electric vehicles still holds a lot of uncertainty. For example, where will we charge them? Replacing gas stations with battery charging stations is always a possibility. One idea floating around is that consumers should be able to buy multiple car batteries that can actually slide in and out of their cars.

This would allow us to have back ups for whenever we run out of juice. The only thing certain is that with the rising cost of oil and the climate changes we are facing, we are indeed at a moment of change, perhaps a change that will lead us to have ‘any color–so long as it’s electric.’

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, plugging into green matters! Share your story of how you are working to reduce carbon emissions, by entering our contest, and you’ll be eligible to win a prize, including being featured on TV as our next GreenHero!

Since early January of this year articles and blogs have been telling us 2011 is going to be “The Year of the Electric Car”. This mighty title was taken from an early January Globe and Mail article of the same name and has re-opened talk around Ontario’s sometimes unclear stance on electric cars on our roads.

Electric car use is presently at provincial-level jurisdiction, but that wasn’t always the case. Transport Canada originally approved electric cars for sale and use, but left the finer details to be worked out province by province.

The perception that Ontario didn’t allow electric cars is not correct, but it does speak of the quandary of legislation it passed which rendered these e-vehicles of very little use to everyday drivers. The stringent safety standards set out by the province meant the low-speed e-vehicles in existence could not be driven on most Ontario roads.

This left e-cars like the Zenn in a position to operate only in closed, private spaces – hardly practical. It also forced the Canadian manufacturer Zenn, to sell its product in the United States and other countries with more reasonable safety standards.

However, 2010 saw the provincial government express more interest in the possibilities e-vehicles present. Safety standards have stayed consistent which allowed car-makers to catch up. Cash rebates are also offered to those purchasing electric cars as of July 1st 2010.

This incentive deal is coupled with the vast array of choices consumers now have when sourcing an e-car, in 2011 models from such manufacturers as Ford, Toyota, Nissan, and even the sexy Porsche and Tesla companies are being rolled out to compete in this new corner of the market.

The Ontario government has more recently taken further steps to promote use of e-cars, announcing it wants to see 5% of all vehicles on Ontario roads are electric by the year 2020. Ontario energy companies are busy preparing for the upcoming demand this will place on the grid by investing $7 million into Ryerson University’s new Centre for Urban Energy over the next 5 years.

This cash infusion will allow Ryerson University to tackle such tough energy supply issues as ways that cities can produce more energy, how to distribute it cleanly, and improving energy storage techniques.

It took a while, but Ontario is bringing the electric car back to life.

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, plugging into green matters!
Share your story of how you are working to reduce carbon emissions, by entering our contest, and you’ll be eligible to win a prize, including being featured on TV as our next GreenHero!

Carbon emissions are a huge contributor to our rapid declining in air quality. Pollution and smog affect our health, our environment and our quality of life. Vehicles of all kinds play a serious part in creating this problem, but we all need transportation. That’s why Toronto based Ian Clifford took action and co-created the Zenn car in 2006. Zenn stands for Zero Emission, No Noise and is a totally electric vehicle.

Ian Clifford’s journey to GreenHerodom started later in life. His career saw him begin as a professionally trained photographer under the mentorship of Ansel Adams. He soon became a leading corporate photographer before co-founding digIT Interactive, a marketing company in 1995. After selling digIT Interactive in 2000, Ian was looking for a more meaningful project and began to think of ways he could make a positive contribution to human impact upon the earth.

In 2001 he co- founded Feel Good Cars (now ZENN Motor Company) and began producing vehicles that allow for zero-emission transport. These cars, like the CityZenn take less than 8 minutes to fully charge and can reach top speeds of 125 km/hour! A great replacement for gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks.

Zenn now owns 10.7 percent of Texas-based EEStor, a company that develops technology used to store electric energy. They provide the batteries for the Zenn vehicles and this collaboration allows Zenn to continue to stay on the cutting edge of electric storage breakthroughs.

Since February 2011, Ian has been Vice Chairman of ZENN Motor Company and continues to be involved with the production of these green machines.

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, plugging into green matters! Share your story of how you are working to reduce carbon emissions, by entering our contest, and you’ll be eligible to win a prize, including being featured on TV as our next GreenHero!

Happy New Year!

We at GreenHeroes are looking forward to the year ahead with more webisodes and take action campaigns to get you involved.

Between now and mid-June we will be introducing you to more GreenHeroes who acted on their ideas to bring about environmental change.

We start the year off with webisodes that show how corporate responsibility and green initiatives cango hand in hand.

January 3 – Willa Black – Willa is a Cisco executive and inspiration behind the successful One Million Acts of Green that in 105 days had Canadians reach the goal of 1 million Green Acts to help the planet.

January 17 – Ray Anderson – Crowned America’s Greenest CEO, Ray turned his carpet manufacturing company into an example of sustainability that also turns a sizeable profit.

January 31st – Shane Price – is Founder of Green Circle Salons an initiative that recycles and reuses waste from hair dressing salons.

Other heroes to watch for in the coming year

Ian Clifford (creator of the Zenn Electric Car)

Emily Hunter (MTV eco-journalist and daughter of Greenpeace’s co-founders, Robert and Bobbie Hunter)

Ric O’Barry (star of the Academy Award winning documentary – The Cove)

Also featured are profiles of Green Giant, David Suzuki, Musician Bruce Cockburn, Owl Magazine Founder, Annabel Slaight, Clayoquot Sound hero Tzeporah Berman, and Bullfrog Power founder,Tom Heintzman

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, healthy communities matter. Share your story of how you are affecting the health of your neighbours and your local environment, by entering our contest, and you’ll be eligible to win a prize, including being featured on TV as our next GreenHero! Contest details and more information can be found here.

Photo credit: The Boston Bruins

By Joan Prowse, Director

I really love this week’s episode because it’s about oxymorons. Despite working in fields that depend heavily on fossil fuels, these GreenHeroes have nevertheless found ways to help protect the planet.

Take Boston Bruins’ defenseman, Andrew Ference, as an example. He turned the jet-setting NHL Player’s Association onto carbon offsets. Virtually every player in the NHL now contributes to programs that help the environment.

Professional racecar driver Leilani Münter also offsets her sport by buying an acre of rainforest for every race she drives.

By the way, she only accepts sponsorships for her racecar from green businesses, and in so doing, uses the car as a big billboard for the environment.

Both Andrew and Leilani are tapping into their extensive fan base to extend the reach of environmentalism beyond the committed “deep greens” to the “mushy middle” – those of us who want to do something but have yet to take action. The two of them both visited the site of the giant oil spill in Louisiana in July to bring further attention to the problem there.

These two heroes have faced their share of criticism. In the middle of a brawl, Andrew’s been called a “tree-hugger”, and Leilani certainly has put up with a lot of criticism as a woman speaking out for the environment in a gas-guzzling, male-dominated sport.

Photo credit: Craig Davidson

It seems the naysayers have it out for people who are trying to make a difference. Just this past week a friend of mine, who works in the Alberta Tar Sands (of all places) asked me if I didn’t feel like a hypocrite jet-setting around the world to tell my stories.

My answer was simple – I’m doing my part by making stories of incredible people known through the airwaves and the Internet. What I’m hoping to do is change minds – like yours – across the globe.

Want to be a part of the action? Learn more about this week’s featured GreenHero, Wangari Maathai and start Talking Climate Change by visiting our campaign page!

Oil Changers premières on TVO tonight at 7 p.m. and repeats on Saturday, December 3 at 4 p.m.

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, it’s time to speak up:
Share your story of how you’re starting a discussion on climate change and the environment and how you’re making your voice heard by entering our contest, and you’ll be eligible to win a prize, including being featured on TV as our next GreenHero! Contest details and more information can be found here.

GreenHeroes.tv is all about saving the planet, one story at a time. Do you have a great story to tell about how you’re helping to make the world a greener place? Enter the contest to nominate a friend or yourself – you could be one of Canada’s next GreenHeroes!

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