Rules must have been very poorly designed while finding Europe’s Greenest Driver?
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG
- July 26, 2010
Opel Ampera in Europe and the ecoFLEX Experience in detail.
Opel sought Europe’s Greenest Driver and Portugal’s António Gonçalves proved worthy of the title this weekend. Under the motto: “Green Driver: Wanted!” Opel initiated a two-month long ecoFLEX Experience competition to raise awareness that proper eco-conscious driving techniques – coupled with the right vehicles – can go far in reducing CO2 emissions.
Opel first whittled down a playing field of nearly 70,000 competitors to 20 contestants – one from each participating country. They met this past weekend at Sturup Raceway near Malmö, Sweden for the grand finale. After two days of suspenseful action, the 25-year-old ecoFLEX Experience champion accepted a symbolic key for the grand prize, one of the very first electric Opel Ampera, which is on schedule for production next year. The extended-range electric vehicle – the first series car of its kind in Europe -- will be on sale in Europe at the end of 2011.
“I definitely wanted to win because I wanted that Ampera,” said a proud and happy Gonçalves. “That’s why my main focus was to drive as consistently as possible.”
The second- and third-place winners also have reason to celebrate. The runner-up, fuel-saving champion Yakup Pelit from Denmark, won an Opel Astra 1.3 CDTI ecoFLEX. The 95 HP compact car achieves 57.4 mpgUS combined on the NEDC.
Number three, the Finn Keijo Tapio Leppävuori, can show off his eco-friendly driving style in a Corsa 1.3 CDTI ecoFLEX that features an average consumption of only 63.6 mpgUS combined.
Final in Sweden
The participants had to demonstrate their fuel-saving abilities in four disciplines at the Swedish Sturup Raceway. The first was a typical city tour in the Corsa with a lot of starts, stops and varied speed limits. The overall winner of this event, Gonçalves, achieved an average consumption of 55.3 mpgUS. Runner up Leppävuori burned 53.45 mpgUS and the third place winner, Urban Gostencnik of Slovenia used 51.6 mpgUS.
Smooth cruising against the clock was on the agenda with the top-of-the-line Insignia event, with Denmark’s Pelit averaging 54.7 mpgUS. Portugal’s Gonçalves took second place with 51.1 mpgUS, while Sweden’s Jesper Forsberg placed third with 50.25 mpgUS. The Meriva had only a half liter of diesel in its tank, and the best participant in this challenge, Forsberg successfully covered 18.13 km on this fuel ration.
With 1.6 liters of fuel in the Astra’s tank, the aim of the fourth race was to cover 20 laps as quickly as possible – a deed requiring particular skill in driving fast, but still being able to cross the finish line. The overall winner, Slovenia’s Gostencnik, managed this in just 43 minutes and 19 seconds. Second place was Pelit with 43”27’. Third place was Italy’s Fabio Bochicchio, clocking in at 43”30’.
At the end of the weekend, António Gonçalves found the best balance between fuel-saving techniques and a speedy driving style, with an overall consumption average of just 59.5 mpgUS. This put him ahead of the other country winners, proving that environmentally friendly driving can be fun – and profitable.
The overwhelming interest in the Opel/Vauxhall ecoFLEX Experience exceeded all expectations. In Germany alone, almost 19,000 people registered to participate, while in the UK, Turkey, France and Italy over 5,000 participants registered in each country. To date, the ecoFLEX Experience website has had around 2.5 million visits.
Hypermiling – today and tomorrow
The overwhelming attention also underlines the growing importance and popularity of economical cars. Opel offers a varied portfolio of ecoFLEX models, ranging from economical gasoline versions to low-CO2 diesels and alternative fuel variants including Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).
The ecoFLEX Experience grand prize, the Opel Ampera, showcases the brand’s commitment to increasingly offer environmentally friendly engine technologies in the future.
The Opel Ampera extended-range electric vehicle will be the first emission-free, electrically driven car in Europe suitable for everyday driving.