Chasing down SA’s most fuel efficient cars

Manufacturers’ claimed consumption figures are obtained in controlled test conditions, but this will test how achievable they are in regular driving

15 August 2019 - 08:35 By Denis Droppa
To be held in November, the five-day Fuel Economy Tour will see 60 cars and bakkies competing for honours in 12 categories. Picture: SUPPLIED
To be held in November, the five-day Fuel Economy Tour will see 60 cars and bakkies competing for honours in 12 categories. Picture: SUPPLIED

The hunt is on to find SA’s most fuel-efficient cars.

With rising petrol and diesel prices making frugality an ever more important factor in choosing a vehicle, WesBank and FNB are joining forces to stage the Fuel Economy Tour later this year.

To be held from November 12 to 16, the five-day, 2,500km tour will see 60 cars and bakkies competing for honours in 12 categories. The organisers have called on vehicle manufacturers and importers to enter standard production vehicles in the event, which will start in Johannesburg before moving through Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth and George before finishing in Cape Town.

The initiative seeks to glean the real-world consumption figures of vehicles, as manufacturers’ claimed figures are obtained in controlled test conditions and are seldom achievable in regular driving.

The Total fuel economy run, which ran for 36 years and ended in 2012, was a similar venture, but the consumption figures achieved were also often unrealistically low.

Charl Wilken, former multiple motorsport champion and project leader of the WesBank Fuel Economy Tour, says the aim of the event is to produce realistic fuel economy figures.

The route, although more biased towards open roads, will also include a lot of urban driving and at regular speeds, he says. The event is dedicated to obtaining realistic fuel consumption figures over a significant distance on roads well travelled by motorists.

There will be penalties, in the form of litres of fuel, for late arrival at designated checkpoints, but no penalty for early arrival. This will be monitored to ensure that the fuel consumption data these vehicles deliver remains relevant to everyday driving.

The plan is to make this an annual event over the same basic route so that ongoing comparisons and a meaningful list of vehicles can be compiled.

“This data will be invaluable for potential vehicle buyers as they research which model to buy,” says a WesBank spokesperson.

“The cost of fuel is a major budget item for all motorists and transport companies in SA as the country battles with an economic downturn and ever increasing fuel prices — now the highest in the country’s history. The effects of these rising fuel prices impact every person in the country, either directly or indirectly as well as on the cost of moving goods, which in turn forces up prices,” the spokespersonn says.

He says disappointing fuel consumption from their new vehicles is the most common cause for complaint by SA motorists, according to recent research conducted by Ipsos.


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