How green is this rally?

Car mak­ers are lin­ing up for a new out­back chal­lenge, write PAUL GOVER and STU­ART INNES

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

GREEN car buy­ers will fi­nally get the an­swers to their big ques­tions when ev­ery eco car in Aus­tralian show­rooms — and a bunch of hope­fuls — is put to the test in Oc­to­ber.

The Mini D will bat­tle the Toy­ota Prius, the Honda In­sight will go up against the Suzuki Alto and there will be more than a dozen other ma­jor con­tenders in the 3000km Global Green Chal­lenge from Dar­win to Ade­laide.

All types of fuel choice, from reg­u­lar un­leaded to hy­brid, diesel, elec­tric, ethanol and hy­dro­gen, will be on show.

The new econ­omy en­duro has evolved from the World So­lar Car Chal­lenge, an event that cre­ated its own motoring his­tory through the Aus­tralian Out­back.

Gen­eral Motors won the first time, Honda was also a cham­pion and uni­ver­si­ties around the world pushed their bright­est brains to cre­ate cars for the con­test.

This time the sun-run con­tenders will go again, but the fo­cus is on the Green Chal­lenge for show­room hope­fuls from Oc­to­ber 24-30.

More than a dozen dif­fer­ent car mak­ers are ex­pected to en­ter with more than two dozen in­di­vid­ual mod­els. The sun race has al­ready drawn 43 en­trants from 17 coun­tries.

Both events will run on the same course on the south­ern run of the Stu­art High­way, but Global Green Chal­lenge cars also face a leg around Ade­laide be­fore their fin­ish.

The event has sparked enor­mous in­ter­est from car mak­ers, says Ja­son Allen, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the SA Mo­tor Sport Board, which is be­hind the event, as are the South Aus­tralian and North­ern Ter­ri­tory gov­ern­ments.

‘‘The so­lar chal­lenge al­ways has pro­vided a test for the lat­est in so­lar-power tech­nol­ogy. Now the Global Green Chal­lenge— by hav­ing a spread of auto mak­ers and their al­ter­na­tive­fuel low-emis­sion cars — will be of di­rect in­ter­est to Aus­tralian car buy­ers,’’ he says.

‘‘The Global Green Chal­lenge is very rel­e­vant be­cause mo­torists will want to know about cars that use less oil-based fuel and those that run on al­ter­na­tive fu­els. This event will be a prac­ti­cal, real-world con­test for those cars.’’

The chal­lenge is backed by the broad­band busi­ness, In­tern­ode, whose manag­ing di­rec­tor Si­mon Hack­ett is an elec­tric-car en­thu­si­ast.

He brought the first Tesla elec­tric sports car to Aus­tralia and will drive it in the event.

‘‘We want to demon­strate it is pos­si­ble to be green and high-per­for­mance,’’ Hack­ett says.

GM Holden spokes­woman, An­drea Matthews, says the com­pany is keen to com­pete— without re­veal­ing which model it will run. But it’s known Holden is de­vel­op­ing a Com­modore to run on E85 ethanol fuel, as well as looking at diesel en­gines and the GM Volt elec­tric car.

Mini plans a diesel at­tack and Toy­ota and Honda are likely to com­pete with their lat­est hy­brids, the Prius and the In­sight.

A cars­Guide team will take part, but will not re­veal its mount un­til closer to the date.

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