Corrections or additions?
These stories by Barbara Fox were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on
May 6, 1998. All rights reserved
Parade of Electric Cars
A circus-like parade of alternative energy cars is
coming to town. The intriguing and splashy array of vehicles in the
Tour de Sol, the United States Electric Vehicle Championship
will be on display at Princeton High School on Monday, May 11, from
7:45 to 10 a.m. Then it will wind its way down Washington Road and
Princeton Hightstown Road through West Windsor, pass Mercer County
Community College, and go through Hamilton Square and Yardville on
its way to Burlington.
Adding to the festive character of the parade is that the four dozen
competing vehicles carry orange pennants and logos of the sponsors
and are accompanied by about 100 support vehicles. One of the teams
is comprised of 40 elementary school children from a Vermont school,
and sometimes — screaming and yelling — they help push their
entry "Helios the Heron," a converted Volkswagen microbus,
down the road.
"It is absolutely like a circus, a traveling road show," says
who administers the event for the
Northeast Sustainable Energy Association. "We travel from site
to site and set up a display so you can see the vehicles and talk
to the people who produced them. We are about 300 people strong, and
you will find no difficulty finding someone to talk to, everyone from
representatives of major car companies to high school students."
"We have come a tremendous way," says Hazard. "Ten years
ago we started the Tour de Sol with six solar racing cars built by
students. Now everything is really market ready. People will see the
vehicles they will be buying and using in the next decade. People
will be very pleasantly surprised at the quality of the vehicles."
Though the Tour de Sol is not really a race, it is a contest. The
cars will be graded on braking and handling. The amount of electricity
or other fuel that each car uses is measured each day, as is the
and range. Toyota is not competing but, as a sponsor, will provide
the lead car, a Prius five passenger four-door sedan that sells in
Japan for about $17,000. Ford is providing a display model and
is bringing a preproduction prototype. The New York Power Authority
is entering a Honda EV Plus, and Solectria has several entries,
a motor scooter. (http://www.solectria.com
). Also entered
are an electric "Charger Bicycle"
from California, an ’86 Ford Escort from Cinnaminson High School,
and a ’96 Chevy Beretta from Swarthmore College.
Plug-ins, for an electric vehicle, are obviously
At the end of the day the four dozen vehicles in the Tour de Sol
their wagons" to plug into the trailer with the electric power,
which in turn is plugged into another power source.
In years to come, will gasoline powered cars ever be as unpopular
as smokers in restaurants? "Yes, we will get to the point where
people will prefer to drive the electric vehicle," says Hazard.
"Some think the gas station will be called the `energy provider’
and it may have a number of fuels. Others think the electrical
will happen in people’s homes."
, Princeton High
School, 609-452-1491. Display of vehicles powered by alternative forms
of energy, part of the annual Tour de Sol. The race starts in
on Friday, May 8, and ends in Washington D.C., on Thursday, May 14.
Call the NESEA at 413-774-6051 (http://www.nesea.org
After 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 10, the race cars leave Morristown and
will enter Princeton via Liberty Corner, Martinsville, and Chimney
Rock, to 533 South through Manville, Millstone Borough, Griggstown,
and Rocky Hill Borough, to Route 206 and into Princeton. The entourage
parks overnight at Princeton High School and is on display from 7:45
to 10 a.m. Parking is available on Walnut, Franklin, and Guyot
On Monday at 10 a.m. the cars exit Princeton, heading east on Route
571 through West Windsor to Route 526 through Dutch Neck and
south through Hamilton Square and Yardville enroute to Mount Holly,
where they will be on display at Burlington College from 11:30 a.m.
to 4 p.m.
In stop and go traffic, electric cars shine, because
when you take your foot off the accelerator, the batteries recharge.
That’s what Sandra Brillhart
and Nassef Soliman
they should know.
Soliman drives an electric car between the Junction train station
and Parsons-Brinckerhoff at the Carnegie Center. As executive director
of Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association,
keeps a Solectria electric car (a rebuilt Geo) at 15 Roszel Road and
uses it for demonstrations and for attending meetings.
GMTMA is working with the state transportation department to encourage
the use of electric cars.
Brillhart’s and Soliman’s cars are part of a three-year $1.5 million
DOT demonstration project that is supposed to test the effectiveness
of nonpolluting electric cars to determine their effectiveness as
short-range commuting vehicles, as well as to attract reverse
Solectria Corporation provided up to 21 electric sedans for
Power Commute". Though the cars cost $35,000 to $38,000 they are
virtually maintenance-free and of course require no gas, only an
Solectria Corporation has produced more than 300 electric vehicles
that have driven more than 2 million miles in six years Based in
Massachusetts, it is competing with Ford, Toyota, General Motors,
and other international car makers in the EV field. At last year’s
American Tour de Sol, a 1997 Solectria Force NiMH electric sedan broke
a range record for production electric vehicles by finishing 249 miles
on one day and went on to win the race.
Among Solectria’s technological innovations have been all-electric
air conditioning and heating, cabin pre-heat, automatic battery
management systems, and drive systems. Its nickel metal-hydride (NiMH)
battery, now used for laptop computers and cellular phones, is
to be used in a General Motors Ev-1 electric car this fall. These
NiMH batteries are expected to replace the old-style lead-acid
The state project’s cars are "garaged" at New Jersey Transit
stations in Morristown and Cherry Hill as well as in Princeton. New
Jersey has one of the largest, if not the largest, station car
project in the Northeast. Don Borowski
(Rider, Class of ’80)
is the project manager for the electric car project for New Jersey’s
Department of Transportation. He has two of the electric cars at DOT
headquarters E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Station car programs similar to New Jersey’s have begun in California,
Florida, Massachusetts, and New York.
"At this point the limitations are the batteries, which add a
lot of weight to the vehicle and reduce the range," says Borowski.
"That’s why we have gone with the station car project. We are
taking them seven to ten miles away to a place where they can be
If you are going to use electrics, let’s make sure we do it the right
Borowski admits to some disappointments. Acceptance of the electric
cars "has gone faster in Morristown, perhaps because there is
a concentration of reverse commuters. Princeton has been a little
bit slower." It didn’t help that it the "plug-ins" at
the Vaughn Drive parking lot of the Junction train station were
only last month — eight months late.
The electric cars’ drivers attended some training sessions, and the
employers are paying $100 monthly. Soliman, manager of the Parsons
Brinckerhoff geotechnical department, commutes with another engineer
from Metuchen and uses the project car to get from the train station
to the Carnegie Center. He also uses the electric car for 30-mile
trips to the DOT, but never to job sites (he is working on designs
for bridges in Ocean City and Newark). "It won’t make it,"
"We estimate the safe range of the car would be 35 to 40 miles.
We drive it while it has up to 55 amps, but after 50 amps it starts
to slow down," says Soliman. The car has three acceleration
(economy, normal, and power) and uses 1.3 amps for one mile, he has
estimated. But if you floor the accelerator it will consume 1.7 amps
per mile. "If you get used to the car you can get more mileage
out of it," says Soliman.
Though Soliman echoes the standard idea that the electric car is good
mainly for station commuting or as a second car for short trips,
nevertheless points to the Solectria model, the Sunrise, with the
nickel metal hydride battery that in last year’s race did more than
240 miles on a single charge: "I don’t think people realize there
is a vehicle that would get that kind of range. Once you hit the 200
mile threshold you are meeting the needs of most people."
Says Borowski: "It’s important to let people know about what the
future holds." And Borowski says his electric car doesn’t attract
stares, "but people behind me may notice I don’t have a
The National Station Car Association (E-mail:
. The Electric Auto Association, 800-537-2882.
Electrifying Times (http://www.teleport.com~etimes.
Bicycles help solve energy problems, and they also deal
quite neatly with parking problems. To encourage biking short
in Princeton, the Greater Mercer TMA hopes to launch a
program, which makes refurbished donated bicycles available to the
public for crosstown travel. People pick up a bike from any of
station stops and leave it at another stop when they are done. No
charge, no paperwork, and presumably fewer cars.
But the program, which has been successfully launched in such cities
as Portland, Oregon, Austin, Texas, and Madison, Wisconsin, has run
into another form of congestion — municipal red tape. Princeton
Borough Mayor Marvin Reed has asked the TMA to delay implementation
to research liability and insurance issues.
"Naturally we’re disappointed," the TMA’s Sandra Brillhart
said in a statement. "We have spent a great deal of time and money
having the bikes refurbished and developing marketing materials. I
can’t really say how long the delay will be. I don’t believe there
is any reason why the program wouldn’t work in Princeton."
— Barbara Fox
Would your business or organization like to be a "station
stop" on this new transportation network? You would provide a spot
bicycles to be temporarily parked. Call 609-452-1491.
Managing paper and information doesn’t seem that
until you can’t find the document you need. Until a crisis develops
— when someone is in the hospital and needs a previous X-ray,
or when someone is dying and needs the key to the safe deposit box
— most of us ignore the nitty gritty organizational chores.
Paul Brobson and James Cundari have developed LifeFile to rescue the
disorganized and encourage the organized to achieve even greater
At first look, their product appears to be nothing more than a stack
of labeled folders, but it is actually the well-thought out first
step to a document system that can eventually be transferred to a
computer or even to a CD.
The paper version of LifeFile sells for from $39 to $65, depending
on whether you get the basic personal version or the small business
version, and it is being manufactured through a joint venture
with one of the three top office supply manufacturers in North
Atapco. It is being marketed as a promotional gift, a way for
accountants, financial planners, or realtors to cultivate long term
"In essence, Life File is a vertical pile with priorities
With an initial investment of $100,000 (half their own funds, the
rest from an SBA loan) Cundari and Brobson set up shop last year at
the Jersey Avenue incubator in New Brunswick to do life management
services and document management systems.
Cundari, senior vice president of operations, majored in English at
St. Peter’s College and went to law school at Seton Hall. After a
law career he went into the insurance business and was chief of staff
to the chairman of the state assembly insurance committee.
Brobson, the president, is also an insurance agent and financial
A native of Ocean City, he majored in economics at Catholic
Class of 1984. He worked for a major insurance company for 13 years.
He named the firm after his first two sons, Tyler and Randy, and now
has a third. Tyrand originally planned to sign on large companies,
such as insurance firms and stock brokers, to underwrite the recording
of a client’s precious documents on a CD. The client would return
to the agent or broker every year to have the CD updated, which would
considerably enhance the client/agent relationship. But most clients
did not have the documents sufficiently organized to be ready for
a recording session, and contracts with the big companies were scarce.
"But we quickly discovered that consumers really loved the hard
copy system," says Brobson, "so we built an entire product
line around this market demand."
"Although there are several filing supplies that contain some
of the features of the LifeFile File Management System, there are
no other turn-key personal document management and storage systems
available to consumers on the market, currently," says Brobson.
One starts by funneling all incoming paper into one
of five orange folders: Bills to Pay, To Do Immediately, To Do Later,
to Forward to Someone, To File in LifeFile. "The manual makes
it simple to do the work," says Brobson. "We advise people,
don’t try to take 30 years at once. Start using it from today forward
with the papers you are accumulating," says Brobson. "As time
goes by you will determine whether you want to attempt the transfer
of 30 years of documents into the system." When you get around
to actually doing the filing, the system has four colorcoded
Legal, Tax, Financial, and Personal, 10 category dividers, and from
52 to 200 preprinted file dividers, depending on which edition you
have, plus plenty of blank files. The file categories range from
estate," "credit cards," and "what you owe" to
"medical information" "memorabilia" and "what’s
owed to you."
LifeFile will be sold through a Queens-based firm, Diamond Direct
Marketing, using infomercials and some television shopping networks,
before being distributed through traditional retail channels. "If
I put it on the shelves right now the consumer would not buy it, but
if I put it on an infomercial, it can be demonstrated, and get some
brand recognition," says Brobson.
Tyrand is also partnering with Documagix to integrate LifeFile with
PaperMaster "personal file cabinet" software, which is bundled
onto leading sheet-fed scanners. It is also pursuing relationships
with makers of file cabinets, storage crates, and fire proof safes.
Deloitte and Touche is the firm’s systems integrator and strategic
When attorneys or accountants use LifeFile as a promotion, they are
giving something valuable that will keep their names in front of their
clients daily. The next step is to get the clients to divulge or share
their filed information. That’s a scary thought if you are the client,
a tantalizing thought if you are the attorney or financial planner.
"The financial service company is dying to get the client’s
says Brobson. That’s where LifeFile’s probate management and wealth
management services come in.
Brobson quotes surveys sponsored by Deloitte & Touche and Cigna,
last December, indicating that more than 80 percent of consumers feel
that maintaining a relationship with a personal financial advisor
is either important, very important or critical. He pooh poohs the
idea that most people will soon do their financial business on the
Internet and emphasizes that a wealth management or probate management
product will enhance client relationships. "Yet insurance
are dumping millions into an alternate distribution channel, the
when in reality people don’t want to do business there," says
Does a small business or home office really need this system? Brobson
cites these figures: 90 percent of all documents handled daily are
merely shuffled. Workgroups lose 15 percent of all documents that
they handle. Workgroups spend 30 percent of their time trying to find
lost documents. Companies spend $20 on labor to file one document,
$120 on labor to search for a lost document, and $250 on labor to
recreate a lost document.
A good system for integrating paper copies with digital copies might
be a bargain after all.
— Barbara Fox
, 100 Jersey Avenue, New
Brunswick 08901. Paul Brobson, president. 732-249-2310; fax,
732-545-0120. E-mail: email@example.com. Home page:
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.