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Ahead Of The Curve

With the focus of the automotive world ever-so-slowly shifting towards more sustainable vehicles, and the increasing popularity of hybrid-electric vehicles, this news from Disney is a welcome reminder of Walt Disney World’s ambitious origins:

ELECTRIC VEHICLE TEST PROGRAM AT WALT DISNEY WORLD PROVES SUCCESSFUL

About two months ago, Walt Disney World began participating in a special Electric Hybrid Vehicle Program with the federal government. This program involves using a special test vehicle in an area usually served by a gasoline powered vehicle… in this case a pickup truck operated by the Facilities area.

Welcome news indeed. Except for the fact that – oh wait – this news is from thirty-one years ago. Oh, it’s true.

Pedro Arcia and Larry Danielson, Walt Disney World Machine Shop Cast Members, examine the Electra-Van 1000P while thinking of new verses for Convoy incorporating references to fuel cell technology

That sweet ride is an Electra-Van 1000P – a Chrysler pickup converted to run on 24 6-volt lead acid batteries. Part of a Department of Energy pilot study, these vehicles were tested by Disney and other corporations in the wake of the late 1970s gasoline shortages. The pilot was such a success that Disney agreed to buy 20 additional electric vehicles – pickups, vans, and, most impressively, three converted AMC Pacer Wagons!

It’s a little slice of Progress City in the real world. The full article, from September 29th, 1979:

ELECTRIC VEHICLE TEST PROGRAM AT WALT DISNEY WORLD PROVES SUCCESSFUL

About two months ago, Walt Disney World began participating in a special Electric Hybrid Vehicle Program with the federal government. This program involves using a special test vehicle in an area usually served by a gasoline powered vehicle . . . in this case a pickup truck operated by the Facilities area.

Walt Disney World was one of several hundred companies who expressed interest in participating in the program and was selected along with four other companies (Consolidated Edison, Long Island Lighting Co., A.T. & T. and EHV Distribution Inc.) to test these vehicles under actual usage.

The specifications required of the test vehicle resulted in the identification of certain areas of Walt Disney World where electric vehicles could be used … specifically our pickup trucks used in the Maintenance areas. An Electra Van Model 1000P was purchased and put to work. The pickup (pictured above with Pedro Arcia and Larry Danielson from our machine shop) drives and handles very much like a regular truck. It has a three-speed shift and an engine response similar to a gas-powered truck. The chief difference is obvious when you raise the hood to find it full of batteries …. and not the engine.

As a result of the two-month test it has been decided to purchase 20 additional vehicles . . . 14 additional pickups, 3 sedans (converted AMC Pacer Wagons) and 3 cargo vans. The test has shown that these vehicles are reliable and reduce dependence on oil. No waiting in line at gas stations for the owners of vehicles like this but beware the person who forgets to plug his truck in overnight!

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3 comments to Ahead Of The Curve

  • gary

    RufusTheGreat, you REALLY need to read, “The Hydrogen Hoax”. In it you will find that it’d take 5 miracles in order to EVER make hydrogen cars practical.
    1) The hydrogen researchers know what side of the bread that the butter is on so they keep promising “It’ll be ready in less than 10 years” I remember researchers saying it in the 1970′s the 1980′s the 1990′s the 2000′s and now were rolling into the 20 teen’s with the same false promise
    2) Hydrogen vehicles have NEVER be able to be mass produced for any amount less than $100,000 to one MILLION
    3 The fuel stacks are very expensive, and have to regularly be replaced.
    4 It’d take (conservatively) WELL over a trillion dollars to even build a partial infrastructure to refuel hydrogen
    5 Hydrogen is VERY costly to create. It takes FOUR times as much electricity to manufacture hydrogen as if you’d just re-charged an electric car … which is already PROVEN technology! By the way about 50% of US electricity comes from coal, so how clean IS hydrogen? You can also wast natural gas to manufacture hydrogen, but if you look at all the damage ‘fracking’ (a toxic process whereby natural gas is extracted) is doing to our land and ground water, you’ll realize that Hydrogen IS a huge hoax.

    On the OTHER hand, Disney has so far to date REFUSED multiple requests to even install a SINGLE 240v electric vehicle charging station for its customers. Oh yea, look how progressive they are. In stead, Disney continues to Lease GM land barges. some of them being Flex fuel. don’t EVEN get me started on using food for fuel, even as people starve to death in the world. Only recently has Disney begun to abandon the most obscene of them (Tahoes etc) for smaller SUV’s. Somewhere along the way Disney lost is concept of “tomorrow land” to the point where if large corporations like Disney don’t truly become environmental leaders (NOT just installing a bunch of LED’s and CFL’s), then tomorrow land will look more like a scene out of the “Road Warrior”. Disney needs to read up on “Peak Oil”. No – Walt would roll over in his grave if he could see how Florida has been running things there and in Anaheim CA. such a pity.

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