The Automobile Club of Southern California Driving School is getting greener with delivery of more than 50 new 2016 Ford Fusion Hybrids to be used with student drivers. Fifteen vehicles were delivered in August, and more are on the way by late fall. By mid-2016, the entire green fleet will be in place.
In addition to having the latest hybrid technology, the vehicles also have rearview cameras, adaptive cruise control and the Ford Sync system features that will allow student drivers to learn about the risks and benefits of newer car technology in a controlled environment.
“The transition from gas-powered Fusions to fuel-efficient hybrids will double gas mileage to 44 miles per gallon, saving fuel and reducing operating expenses,” according to Melissa Vega, manager of the Auto Club’s Driver Services.
It also may provide novice teen drivers receiving behind-the-wheel training another “first” through the Auto Club, Vega added.
“The Auto Club trains nearly 5,000 teens annually to drive,” Vega said. “Many teens will have their first driving experience with us and many will drive a green car and use some of the safety-enhancing technology for the first time when they’re behind the wheel of one of our new Ford Fusion Hybrids,” she added.
The Ford Fusion Hybrid is mid-pack in the 2015 AAA Green Car Guide published by the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center (ARC). The guide rates 88 green and high-mileage vehicles. The Fusion Hybrid also received a 5 star (out of 5) crash-test rating from NHTSA.
The Ford Fusion Hybrid met the Auto Club Driving School’s exacting guidelines that are used when selecting vehicles for instructors and students to use. Cars must be domestic and must meet Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) standards, according to Vega. One other important consideration is that the instructor’s passenger side brake pedal (that the instructor uses while conducting behind-the-wheel training) must fit the car, she said. For several years the Auto Club Driving School used the gasoline-powered Ford Fusion because it met all the criteria.
When the driving school decided to look at purchasing hybrids, the Auto Club’s ARC verified that the Fusion Hybrid’s floor-board design was identical to the conventional Fusion and that a second front-seat passenger brake pedal would fit, according to Vega. The ARC developed an installation procedure for the instructor’s passenger side brake pedal, she added.
“This is an important safety factor for teaching teens to drive,” said Vega. “Our certified instructors need to control the vehicle at all times while teaching a young driver.”