How green is this rally?
Car makers are lining up for a new outback challenge, write PAUL GOVER and STUART INNES
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.