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Green Challenge set to review rules

V8 winner: HSV has claimed victory with its 6.2-litre V8 Maloo in the Global Green Challange.

Shake-up expected for Global Green Challenge format to woo new hybrids and EVs

General News logo2 Nov 2009

By RON HAMMERTON

THE format of the Darwin-to-Adelaide Global Green Challenge will be reviewed to try to find a way to make the event more inclusive for the wave of new-generation green cars, especially hybrids and electric vehicles, coming to Australian showrooms.

Victory in last week’s 2009 event was claimed by Holden Special Vehicles, whose 6.2-litre V8 HSV E2 Maloo ute managed, as expected, the largest improvement over its official ADR combined fuel consumption figure (48.7 per cent).

However, the Maloo also used the most fuel on the 3147km journey – 243 litres at 7.7L/100km.

This compares with Ford’s new diesel Fiesta ECOnetic light car, which drank just 98.4 litres at 3.13L/100km, equating only to a 15.4 per cent improvement over its official fuel consumption rating of 3.7L/100km.

While representatives of eight manufacturers slugged it out on the Stuart Highway, driving without air-conditioning and windows up in blazing heat to squeeze every millimetre out of every litre of fuel, Australia’s only manufacturers with hybrid cars already on the market, Toyota (with the Prius) and Honda (with the Civic Hybrid), sat out the event as they knew the percentage-improvement rule and open-highway running conditions would not favour their urban-friendly petrol-electric cars.

 center imageFrom top: Suzuki Alto, Ford Fiesta ECOnetic, Mini Cooper D.

South Australian Motor Events Board spokesman Mike Drewer said the event managers were optimistic that the challenge would be held again, but a decision on another challenge and its format would not be made until after a review of the 2009 event over the next three months.

“A full review is going to happen, but they are looking to run it again,” he said.

Mr Drewer indicated the organisers were aware of the criticism of a “green” event being won by a large V8 ute, saying: “In terms of the rules, that is also up for review. In terms of percentage improvement over ADR figures – I think it is an interesting reading, but I think there is room to look at ways to assess the performance of these sorts of vehicles.

“The aim is to make it as meaningful as possible to the public and whether we totally succeeded in that, I think the jury is still out.”

Mr Drewer said a lot of new cars with electrical or hybrid technologies were about to come on to the market – a direction that event organisers were keen to embrace.

“Certainly, that is obviously the future of where the event will be go,” he said. “If we had waited another two years to do it, that would have been the right place to start.”

Mitsubishi, Holden and Nissan have already announced plans for electric or plug-in hybrid cars for Australia, although mostly in small numbers.

Toyota is also planning to expand its electrically assisted Toyota and Lexus offerings, with the Australian-made Camry Hybrid coming on to the market next year.

It is cars such as this that the Global Green Challenge organisers will be trying to woo by a revision of the format.

In this year’s event, almost every manufacturer could claim some bragging rights, by class or size or fuel type.

While HSV trumpeted its Maloo’s performance against large-car rivals such as the Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo (7.04L/100km for a 39.8 per cent improvement) and even Holden’s Sportwagon (6.48L/100km, 30.3 per cent), it was lesser-known European manufacturer Skoda that upstaged its better-known rivals for sheer efficiency, returning a fuel reading of just 4.59L/100km from its new Skoda Superb diesel large car.

Korean sister companies Hyundai and Kia slugged it out for the entire journey with their new and identically powered diesel-engined Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento SUVs.

In the end, the Hyundai sneaked in for a win, with the company’s lead car returning 5.10L/100km (23.9 per cent improvement) against the Kia’s 5.17L/100km (22.8 per cent).

Kia had intended to enter a pair of LPG-powered Cerato LPI Hybrids – a model that is under consideration for Australian sale in 2011 – but when that plan was derailed by logistical issues, the Sorentos were substituted in a move that did not thrill Hyundai just ahead of its Santa Fe launch at the end of the event in Adelaide.

While Ford’s Fiesta ECOnetic lived up to its title as Australia’s new fuel consumption champion, with its 3.13L/100km result, Suzuki and Mini also were not far behind with their respective Alto and Mini Cooper D models.

The Indian-made Alto was the best-performed petrol car, at 3.91L/100km (18.55 per cent), while the Mini was the superior small car, with a best result of 3.42L/100km (12.28 per cent).

The big news internationally was the performance of the electric-powered Tesla Roadster, which is said to have achieved a world record of 513km on a single charge of the batteries on the run from Alice Springs to Coober Pedy.

Entered by managing director of Australian internet service provider Internode, Simon Hackett, the Tesla was accompanied by its own truck carrying a diesel generator to charge the batteries in lieu of charging stations on the desert highway.

The World Solar Challenge – run in parallel with the Global Green Challenge – was won by a Japanese entry, the Tokai Challenger, from Tokai University, ahead of Nuon Solar Team’s Nuna V, from the Netherlands.

Global Green Eco Challenge results:
VehicleL/100Km% improvement
HSV Maloo Ute VE2 7.7448.76
Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo 7.0439.81
Skoda Superb 4.5933.50
Holden Sportwagon 6.4830.33
Hyundai Santa Fe SLX 5.1023.90
Kia Sorento 5.1722.87
Kia Sorento 5.2821.14
Hyundai Santa Fe SLX 5.3919.57
Suzuki Alto GLX Manual 3.9118.55
Ford Fiesta ECOnetic 3.1315.44
Mini Cooper D 3.4212.28
Mini Cooper D 3.4910.59
Holden Viva 6.689.67
Mini Cooper D 3.705.21

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