FALMOUTH — Four guys from Seattle began a coast-to-coast road trip Tuesday morning on Route 1 to see which car is “greener,” a 2009 Toyota Prius hybrid or a 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI.
Their 17-day journey will take them from Maine to Washington, D.C., to Chicago, to Miami and then up to Portland, Ore., after a stop in Colorado.
John Polnik, an organizer of the Portland to Portland Green Test Drive, said zigzagging across the country allows them to test the Prius, which is rated at 48 mpg in the city and 45 on the highway, and the 30-mpg city/41-mpg highway Jetta in extremely different weather and traffic conditions.
“It’s not just about which one gets the better mileage,” said Polnik, who was at the Morong Falmouth car dealership Tuesday morning, the test drive’s starting point. “It’s also to find out, ‘which one do you really want to drive?'”
Polnik was joined by James Devery, Dane Andrews and Krk Nordenstrom at Morong. Tuesday they were headed to West Springfield, Mass., and then New York City.
The Portland to Portland drive is a production of Green Human, a division of Seattle-based ad and public relations firm Steenman Associates. Polnik said the event is also a chance for them to see just how much information they can get out through different forms of online communication. In addition to a Web site, greenP2P.com, Andrews and Nordenstrom are armed with video cameras to capture the entire trip and Devery, Polnik said, blogs constantly. They will also get the word out through the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.
The coast-to-coast tour idea was planted last summer, Polnik said, when he and Devery took the Prius and Jetta on a trip from Seattle to San Francsisco. They wanted to see if either of the vehicles could make it on a tank of gas. The Jetta got within about 10 miles of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Prius made it about two-thirds of the trip.
“The Toyota does have a gallon less fuel (tank capacity),” said Polnik. The Prius runs on a combination of lithium battery and gas power. The Jetta is a clean-burning diesel that Peter Sowles of Morong said basically has a “super filter” installed.
Sowles said his dealership is a member of what he called the “20 group,” which includes 20 Volkswagen dealers from across the country who get together a few times a year to discuss industry trends.
“It’s basically a think tank,” he said.
The Portland to Portland tour will stop at each of the 20 dealerships in the group.
Krk Nordenstrom, left, Dane Andrews, John Polnik and James Devery stand with Morong Falmouth owner Peter Sowles just before the start of a 17-day, coast-to-coast journey in two “green” cars on Tuesday. (Bucklin photo)