Car drives coast to coast on one tank of diesel

Posted by Laura Grant on November 23, 2008
Posted in Transport

A Peugeot 308HDi drove across South Africa on a single tank of diesel last month. The car, driven by two former rally drivers, Andrew Carter and Spotti Woodhead, did the 1,700km trip from Port Nolloth, on the west coast, to Umhlanga, on the east coast, with an impressive fuel consumption of 3,4 litres per kilometre.

“The route is incredibly challenging because it climbs more than 1,800 metres and visits substantial cities like Bloemfontein where there is traffic to contend with. We literally didn’t know we would make it until we arrived at the finishing line,” said Carter.

Peugeot says it devised the Coast2Coast Challenge to showcase the ultra-efficiency of the medium-sized hatchback 30, and highlight the need for motorists to drive fuel efficiently in order to reduce their impact on the environment.

Mike Wilson, Peugeot Motors South Africa’s marketing manager, said: “We knew the 308 HDi was incredibly light on fuel, but we were pleasantly surprised when it pulled up near Durban on the same tank of fuel it had set off with on the other side of South Africa.

“The success demonstrates that when technology designed with the environment in mind is allied to a fuel efficient driving style, the increased distance between refuelling stops can be startling.”

Carter was a guest on Redi Direko’s show on Talk Radio 702 this week and was talking about the fuel-efficient driving techniques he and Woodhead had used on the trip. To a non-petrol head like myself some of them sounded pretty technical, for instance, try to drive your car at maximum torque because that’s when your engine is at its most efficient (that one sailed way over my head, but apparently you can find out your car’s maximum torque in the user’s manual).

There were a few tips that I did understand, though: firstly, you need to learn to be patient behind the wheel (not an easy thing for a Joburg driver), get up to the top gear as quickly as you can without making your engine work too hard – in other words, be gentle on the accelerator, don’t stamp the pedal onto the floor.

Although fuel-efficient driving is not about speed, Carter said the car did reach 130km/h at times. He said they tried to pick up speed going down hills so that the momentum could take them most of the way up the other side without having to put much strain on the engine.

They didn’t take that long to do the trip: they left Port Nolloth on Monday October 13 and arrived in Umhlanga on Wednesday October 15.

The Coast2Coast 308 is apparently 95 percent recyclable and Peugeot has planted trees in the Orange Farm informal settlement near Johannesburg to offset the challenge’s carbon emissions.

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