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Jones Beach State Park hosts clean fuel vehicle test

The New York State Parks Department held it's first clean fuel vehicle show on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016, as part of National Drive Electric Week. Those at the show had a chance to check out sedans, sport utility vehicles, pickups, golf carts, on- and off-road vehicles and construction and maintenance equipment. The lasting impression was the quiet and lack of exhaust fumes. (Credit: Ed Betz)

The motor vehicle test track at Jones Beach State Park was uncommonly quiet on Wednesday, with exhaust almost undetectable — hinting at what it might be like to live in a clean fuel world.

As part of National Drive Electric Week, which began Sept. 10 and ends on Sunday, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation offered drivers the chance to check out sedans, sport utility vehicles, pickups, golf carts, on- and off-road vehicles and construction and maintenance equipment.

Like a number of other motorists, Joann Bartolotta of Wantagh was taken with the two Teslas, one of which had been driven by its owner from Long Island to California and back.

“The car just guided them the entire way to every single charging station,” she said, adding: “I’m just amazed by the intelligence of this car.”

The vehicles were powered by various kinds of engines, as the industry sorts out which systems will dominate: hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric, compressed natural gas, hydrogen or propane.

The program — the first of what will become an annual Ride-and-Drive event — fits with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s goal of encouraging people to drive electric by expanding charging stations and giving incentives to institutions to develop new technologies.

While the state parks department invited the public, it said the free event mainly was geared toward persuading fleet buyers, such as state and local agencies, to switch to clean fuel vehicles.

More than 1,000 vehicles in the agency’s fleet run on clean fuel — about 24 percent of the total. When possible, the parks department said it plans to replace gasoline and diesel vehicles with clean fuel competitors.

Jones Beach was chosen as the test track for Wednesday’s event because it has enough space, and the parks department already has experience with clean fuel vehicles, officials said.

Rita Ebert, executive director of Greater Long Island Clean Cities Coalition, said the Prius was her favorite, partly because its style gives even shorter drivers like her great visibility.

The Tesla, she said, “was really nice, but a bit above my affordability.”

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